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RIM Facing $147.2 Million Patent Verdict

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the kicking-them-when-they're-down dept.

Blackberry 77

An anonymous reader writes "Reuters reports that beleaguered wireless device maker Research In Motion is on the losing end of a patent suit that will cost them $147.2 million. The jury arrived at that number by assigning an $8 royalty for every BlackBerry connected to RIM's enterprise server software. Unsurprisingly, RIM intends to appeal the decision. 'Mformation sued RIM in 2008, bringing claims on a patent for a process that remotely manages a wireless device over a wireless network, a court filing says. According to its web site, Mformation helps corporations manage their smart phone inventory. The company also says it helps telecoms operators, such as AT&T and Sprint, with remote fixes and upgrades for users' gadgets. RIM argued that Mformation's patent claims are invalid because the processes were already being used when Mformation filed its patent application.'"

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New strategy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40649803)

RIM's lawyers have asked if they can pay the penalty based on current usage. That would bring the verdict down to $72.

kick them while they're down (2, Interesting)

magsk (1316183) | more than 2 years ago | (#40649829)

Out of curiosity where would this patent plaintiff stand in order of having access to RIM assets if they where to file for bankruptcy? Assuming that RIM goes bankrupt tomorrow so before a new trial begins etc. I hope they are at the end of the line.

Re:kick them while they're down (4, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650303)

RIM has $2b in cash and is doing well in some offbeat markets like Indonesia. They have problems but they aren't likely to go broke.

Re:kick them while they're down (4, Insightful)

Octorian (14086) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650525)

Shh... You're not supposed to contradict the popular consensus that RIM is $80B in debt, went bankrupt 6 months ago, and plans to sell half the company next week, and liquidate the rest by the end of the month.

I think you're also supposed to throw in some collection of jabs against whatever phone they sold 4-5 years ago that you didn't like, and how they're still selling it as part of their current portfolio and not working on anything newer.

Re:kick them while they're down (1, Interesting)

magsk (1316183) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653189)

I dont know why i got flaimbait, I was genuine in my question. Especially since it was hypothetical. If a company goes bankrupt after being sued and losing, where does that plaintiff stand in order of having rights to the bankrupt companies assets?

Re:kick them while they're down (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40668301)

The judgement becomes a claimant in the bankruptcy.

Say a company has $3b in assets, $2b in debts and loses a $4b suit. They go into bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy they lose $200m in senior debt.

The company then is restructured one of two ways:
a) The plaintiff gets 66% (3b in assets / $4b suit) of the stock of a company with $3b in assets and $200b in debt
b) The plaintiff gets 66% of the $2.8b after liquidation

Re:kick them while they're down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650551)

Perhaps you missed the part where their market cap is less than 5% of what it was a few years ago, they're bleeding money, and laying off 30% of their workforce.

Re:kick them while they're down (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40652979)

sales growth -7%, profit growth -65%. currently trading at 20% of their peak for the last 12 months and about 5% for the last 3 years and even at these record lows they are still rated as a SELL. They are shedding a large percentage of their staff and currently making an annual loss and have a market cap of under 4bn. they are pretty close to a junk share, trading at slightly under 2 times cash on hand and it is still going down. hmmmmm yeah that sounds like a healthy company, while they may not go broke soon they are definitely right on track to go down the drain in the next year or 2 without a turnaround or more likely someone will buy them up and strip mine them for their patents and customers.

Re:kick them while they're down (3, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653139)

Gross profits for the last year is $6.5b
That gives them EBITDA of $2.4b
after all the write downs they lost $50m

And btw those write downs include settlements on the employees they laid off. That's not great it is not however a company dying quickly on the verge of bankruptcy. It is a company working through issues. Lets not overstate the problems.

The market is very concerned about their execution and with good reason. That's far short of bankruptcy though. As an aside any stock trading for a 1/3rd of book with only product problems, I'd happily buy and take my chances.

Prior art no longer valid? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40649841)

So, even if there is prior art, now that is a worthless argument against a patent?

If so, then the American tech industry is completely screwed. I LIKE IT!

Re:Prior art no longer valid? (2)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40649909)

Prior art? Are you sure it had "wireless " AND "mobile " and "network " and "remote " and and ... err "Internet "??

Re:Prior art no longer valid? (2)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653901)

Not to mention it wouldn't take someone skilled in the art to see managing wireless devices would more than likely be done ... drumroll ... wirelessly!

Re:Prior art no longer valid? (2)

petsounds (593538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40654619)

Judges -- for better or worse -- cannot invalidate patents. They can only rule on whether company X has infringed on the patent as it stands. It is up to company X to make a separate challenge to the validity of the patent through the Patent Office.

Of course, prior art also seems to be ignored during the patent approval process. Patent System: fucked from A to Z.

Of course it is (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40655629)

So, even if there is prior art, now that is a worthless argument against a patent?

If so, then the American tech industry is completely screwed. I LIKE IT!

A patent is invalid if there is one or more pieces of prior art, existent at the time of filing, that, alone or in combination, disclose, teach, or suggest, explicitly or inherently, each and every element of the claims. There's been a lot of FUD spread about the patent reform act and moving from first-to-invent to first-to-file. It changes nothing about prior art, novelty, and obviousness.

In this case, RIM claimed there was prior art that anticipated the patent, but the jury disagreed. That doesn't change the law and mean that prior art isn't valid - the question is one of fact: RIM's prior art just wasn't good enough, apparently.

Rotate the BB logo by 90 degrees counterclockwise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40649883)

And you get a sneak peek at RIM in a month or two.

Obvious is obvious (4, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40649943)

claims on a patent for a process that remotely manages a wireless device over a wireless network

How else are you going to manage a wireless device? If this isn't a ridiculous patent there is none.

Re:Obvious is obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650029)

An obvious solution to an obvious problem isn't obvious if there's lots of steps to it. Then it doesn't matter that everyone skilled in this field would solve the problem similarly, because anyone outside of the field looking at the solution would go "WTF? That's a lot of parts. I"m surprised it doesn't have more patents."

Re:Obvious is obvious (4, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650115)

Then it doesn't matter that everyone skilled in this field would solve the problem similarly

Yes, it absolutely does matter. If the solution is obvious to "a person having ordinary skill in the art" [wikipedia.org] then it's not patentable. I'm pretty sure that any reasonably skilled engineer who needs a way to manage wireless devices would manage them over a wireless network.

Re:Obvious is obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650343)

claims on a patent for a process that remotely manages a wireless device over a wireless network

How else are you going to manage a wireless device? If this isn't a ridiculous patent there is none.

Except the patent obviously doesn't cover everything that "remotely manages a wireless device over a wireless network." The first part of what you quote is important. The patent covers a process that remotely managers a wireless device over a wireless network. I haven't read the patent and am not familiar enough with RIM's phones and other technology to know whether or not RIM actually is using the same process.

My main point is that it's too easy to remove the details from the entire description of a patent and call it obvious or ridiculous. The details are important, however. IANAL, but I do seem to know a little bit more about patents than you, for what its worth.

Re:Obvious is obvious (2)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40652263)

Here are the two [uspto.gov] patents [uspto.gov] . Read them (as I did). There is nothing creative about either of them.

Re:Obvious is obvious (1)

justthefact60 (2685993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40682103)

Oh really? How come even now when you call 611 regarding a problem with your phone the only answer you get is remove battery, wait 30 seconds and reboot!!

Re:Obvious is obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40651907)

How obvious is obvious? After someone else does all the work.

Re:Obvious is obvious (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653417)

Obvious (as I understand it) means that I would have solved the same problem in the same way, no matter how much work it took

Re:Obvious is obvious (1)

justthefact60 (2685993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670621)

if it was so obvious why was rim using a docking station?

Re:Obvious is obvious (1)

justthefact60 (2685993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670659)

How else are you going to manage a wireless device? Using a docking station as RIM was doing!!

looks like patent # 6,970,917 (0)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40649945)

which looks legit. figure it was awarded in the early part of the last decade with a 3-4 year time for the patent office to process the application. looks like a legit patent for work being done years before BES became popular and when RIM was still selling texting toys to teenagers

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650003)

Replace wireless with wired. What is so special about this patent?

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650177)

because it's wireless, d'oh! Remember when we had the same patented stuff, "but on a computer"? And then the same stuff again, "but over the Internet"?

The next patent will be the exact same, but then *location-based*, i.e. I can put in certain settings for geographical areas (e.g. a different state/province or country, say Mexico) and when you travel from the US to Mexico, the settings in your phone will be automatically changed based on your present location!

Oops... did I just create prior art?!

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (3, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650221)

The two main parts of this patent seem to be that it's over a wireless network and that it handles what we used to call "occasionally connected" devices. Since you can't assume the device will be turned on or available when you need to communicate with it you stage the data and send it when you do get a connection. We did that 20 years ago with dial-up devices. But I guess wireless connections are more special than dial-up.

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650279)

And, due to the unreliability of ye olde networks, we did it ten years before that with email. Store and forward is not a new idea.

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650669)

This is called a buffer.

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (2)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650959)

Exactly. That's how UUCP mail worked. Store & forward between the modem-connected nodes then over the internet to the destination MX.

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650831)

Ever heard of dialup over wireless 20 years ago? ;)

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653605)

I'm fairly sure that at least some of my dialup calls in the '80s went over a microwave link.

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650273)

Link to the patent for those interested. The claims at the end are the things that really matter. http://www.google.com/patents/US6970917

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (2)

hughk (248126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650561)

Btw, RIM was putting out stock indices and FX since way back when to their earlier devices. Most of our traders had them in the mid nineties.

If we forget Blackberry, there were a lot of devices around that were connected by switched telephone lines that could only get their updates when connected. Not all that different from wireless.

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#40652219)

BEFORE BES became popular you're suggesting that RIM was selling texting toys to teenagers?

Blackberry was a corporate phone long before it took off with teens. They cost a fortune in the early days, and were an executive status symbol. In the US at least in that era it wasn't super-common for teenagers to even have phones, though some did have them. We're talking 1990s here...

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653961)

Shhh, this is Slashdot. If a company did two things at any point in its history they are obviously contemporaneous and can be used together to attack/defend any point one makes.

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653935)

Not a single part of that patent, alone or in conjunction with any/all other parts, is novel or non-obvious. It is how devices were managed before, the only difference being they were connected to a cord. Deploying a wireless network would obviate the need for a cord, and the next step is to perform that management over the wireless data link on the device.

Now, perhaps if they had patented the idea of putting a wireless link into a device for the purpose of managing it, and submitted that patent a decade earlier, it would be new and-or non-obvious.

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (1)

justthefact60 (2685993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670649)

then why rim did not take the next "obvious'' step of wireless and instead was using a docking station. remember that!!

Re:looks like patent # 6,970,917 (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695593)

More than likely a result of bandwidth considerations, but without being privy to their internal deliberations I have no idea.

Regardless of the specifics of one company's choices, the evolution was inevitable, barring some radical shift in new technology which would have supplanted the progression of available wireless bandwidth.

This is bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40649967)

This whole lawsuit is bullshit.... Puma tech designed the original sync connectors ad Nokia further developed the process with remote connections and management... Sold off technology to RIM... I should know... I was part of it.

Re:This is bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650091)

So was I and I dispute your claim!

Poor RIM (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650021)

They just can't get a break and are getting shafted around every corner...

Re:Poor RIM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650195)

I second this.

Re:Poor RIM (5, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650265)

They forgot to pay somebody. It reminds me of the old movie "Back to School" where Rodney Dangerfield is taking a business class and he starts filling the instructor in on all the payoffs and bribes necessary to conduct business in the "real" world.

Re:Poor RIM (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650501)

So glad I turned down that RIM job. What a black hole that would have been.

More USA Patent judgments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650255)

How much longer is it going to take before our patent system has so thoroughly stifled innovation that something finally snaps and we're left with nothing? Or is this yet another indication that it's already happened and we're doing our best to hold onto what's left?

Uh Oh. This will be a bit hit to them. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650269)

Such a big hit will adversely affect the employment picture.

I foresee fewer RIM jobs.

Re:Uh Oh. This will be a bit hit to them. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650417)

I foresee fewer RIM jobs.

Haha, I see what you did there...

Re:Uh Oh. This will be a bit hit to them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650627)

It'll be okay, after biting through the cuts in RIM jobs, they'll introduce their new product line called 'Dingleberry'. So small it can get stuck between your teeth!

They reap what they sow (1, Flamebait)

laing (303349) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650469)

RIM sued others over their stupid "push" e-mail patent. They won big judgements and settlements. (See this [www.cbc.ca] .) Now I guess it's their turn to pay. This couldn't have happened at a worse time for them. I hope they are gone soon. I want my company to upgrade my 9900 to something else. Anything would be better (even a Windows phone).

Re:They reap what they sow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40651641)

Why Have you failed to mention that the suit in question was actually a countersuit ?

Re:They reap what they sow (1)

laing (303349) | more than 2 years ago | (#40651731)

You are absolutely correct. I should have mentioned that as well because it furthers my point. RIM is a litigious company. "Live by the sword, die by the sword."

Re:They reap what they sow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40651827)

you are just plain stupid.

Re:They reap what they sow (1)

psiclops (1011105) | more than 2 years ago | (#40652681)

I should have mentioned that as well because it furthers my point.

No, it doesn't.
their suit over "push e-mail" was the counter-suit. it even mentions that in the article you linked to. (last paragraph)

The two companies are still involved in a patent dispute in Texas. Visto sued RIM for patent infringement, prompting a countersuit from the BlackBerry maker.

prior art? (1)

detain (687995) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650573)

there must be plenty of prior art for this, and doesn't that kill any patent suit ?

Re:prior art? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#40652277)

I think RIM's whole point was that the Backberry WAS prior art. I wish there were a link to the actual rulings...

Re:prior art? (1)

waterwingz (68802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653489)

If there was valid prior art, do you not think RIM's lawyers would have looked for it and used it ?

These patent cases tend to be very technically complex and turn on very fine details of exact wording. Armchair lawyer's commenting in these threads should probably stick to their day jobs.

Even their viral Twitter ad backfired (1)

belgianguy (1954708) | more than 2 years ago | (#40650585)

“@BlackBerry: Fill in the blank: BlackBerry helps me ________.” realize how thankful I am for my #iPhone

Ouch. [latimes.com]

Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650633)

I'm sorry RIM, inventing something and then using it is no defense to a patent claim.

My Blackberry (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650769)

I own a Blackberry phone, it's the easiest phone I can use SINGLE-HANDED and perform tasks that otherwise would require screen flipping using other smart phones. The Blackberry is not a tablet nor does it claim to be, it is a phone designed to be tough, functional and very reliable when you need it.

Here's a simple and old feature of my Blackberry, I can set an alarm for 7AM, turn off my phone completely, go to sleep, it will turn on at 7AM and sign the alarm. I cannot tell you how many times I've been in situations where I didn't have a battery charger and needed all the battery power I could get and needed to be awaken in the morning.

The shape of the Blackberry is very ergonomic, fits perfect in anyone's palm, I can do everything (short of typing a long message) single-handed, try doing that with those over-sized devices. The Blackberry one of the few devices left for true mobility.

Re:My Blackberry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650987)

I cannot tell you how many times I've been in situations where I didn't have a battery charger and needed all the battery power I could get and needed to be awaken in the morning.

The above indicates nothing so much as your own lack of preparation.

It is trivially easy to have chargers in one's home, car, workplace, and briefcase.

Next time just post :

"I am stupid and I love my RIM device."

Re:My Blackberry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40651447)

Next time just don't miss the oportunity to shut up.

Re:My Blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40651537)

U MAD?

Re:My Blackberry (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40654025)

I always laugh when I see this, because the mental response that comes to mind is always "You 12?"

Re:My Blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40652435)

Why doesn't the iPhone have the capability to wake and sound the alarm? Even dumb phones today can do that.

Why doesn't the iPhone have sound profiles? They are very convenient. I have a BlackBerry 9700 and an iPhone 4S. I wish the iPhone had a quick way to set "Phone Calls only", or Custom profiles that only alert for specific people. Sure, the iPhone has a switch to turn the ringer to vibrate. It also allows you to adjust ringer volume quickly, but not sound/alert profiles.

Re:My Blackberry (2)

psiclops (1011105) | more than 2 years ago | (#40652721)

I cannot tell you how many times I've been in situations where I didn't have a battery charger and needed all the battery power I could get and needed to be awaken in the morning.

The above indicates nothing so much as your own lack of preparation.

It is trivially easy to have chargers in one's home, car, workplace, and briefcase.

The above indicates nothing so much as your own lack of imagination.
HINT: i don't carry a portable power-point.

Next time just post:
"I am stupid and i love trolling"

Re:My Blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40655745)

Here's a simple and old feature of my Blackberry, I can set an alarm for 7AM, turn off my phone completely, go to sleep, it will turn on at 7AM and sign the alarm. I cannot tell you how many times I've been in situations where I didn't have a battery charger and needed all the battery power I could get and needed to be awaken in the morning.

So fucking what. My Nokia 8210 could do that 10 years ago, my Nokia N900 can do that today, and tons of other phones also have that feature.

RIM is circling the drain, and going DOWN !!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40650947)

The marketplace always speaks, sooner or later.

And what the marketplace is saying is that RIM is doomed.

So no matter how much you like your little Crackberry, you'd better get
used to the idea of a new phone that is not made by RIM.

Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40651435)

The company that sued RIM is American. The judge who determined that RIM infringed on the IP of the American company is American. The media companies that belittle/predict doom for RIM and praise Apple, Google, and (recently) Microsoft are American. No further comments.

They're doing it the anti-tivo way (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | more than 2 years ago | (#40651823)

Tivo only makes money from patent income. Looks like RIM will be paying everyone else. You're doing it wrong!

"Beleaguered" (1)

Fished (574624) | more than 2 years ago | (#40651887)

I find it so funny that RIM is now "beleaguered", and it's all due to the outrageous success of Apple whom we were assured would die no more than 10 years ago..

Re:"Beleaguered" (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653037)

Apple would have died without an infusion of cash from Microsoft. And that wasn't a green eyeshades business investment either - Microsoft only kept Apple alive because otherwise their antitrust defense would be more difficult.

Re:"Beleaguered" (1)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 2 years ago | (#40653469)

Stop perpetuating this myth

The truth is that Apple had irrefutable proof that Microsoft had copied source code from Quicktime, they were already in court over this before Steve Jobs came back with the NeXT purchase, and the $150 million investment was part of an out-of-court settlement that included cross-licensing and other terms. It was spun in a way that benefited both companies. To the layman it was a vote of confidence in Apple, to others it was a self-serving ploy by Microsoft to keep a competitor alive during its antitrust trial.

But dig deeper and you find the real story, reported at least as early as 1998 [theregister.co.uk] . For more recent articles backing this up just google "microsoft apple quicktime 150 million".

Microsoft had to pay Apple a substantial amount of money as part of their out-of-court settlement; rumours put it between $500M and $2 billion over several years [roughlydrafted.com] (near bottom of article). So Apple definitely benefited from an infusion of cash from Microsoft, but it wasn't the paltry $150 million investment the public heard about.

Could Apple have survived without the $150M investment, the PR value it gave them, and the up-to $2B in settlement money? Very likely--Apple had around $2B in cash in 1997, its single quarter loss of $700M due to restructuring was behind it. It would've been more shaky at the start and they might not have made as much, but they had enough to tide them over until the iMac era brought them back to profitability.

RIM... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40652475)

Aren't they the company that used to sue evryone with a little keyboard? We used to call them Lawsuits in Motion?

Personally I think patents should be abolished, but I shan't shed a tear fir RIM.

new troll in town? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40734425)

This is indeed bad news for RiM, and bad timing. If things continue in this vein, the company may have only one choice: either to invest significantly in R&D and introduce significant innovations, or to go the way of the patent troll [youtube.com] and start litigating furiously. Any bets as to which way it will go?

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