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Inside the BlackBerry Workaround

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the what's-with-the-string-and-the-cans? dept.

Communications 101

pillageplunder writes "Businessweek has a pretty good FAQ-style article on the proposed workaround that RIM would implement if a judge upholds an injunction." From the article: "It would work by changing the part of the network where e-mails are stored. Right now, when someone is out of wireless coverage range and can't immediately get e-mail access, RIM's service stores incoming messages on computers at one of its two network operations centers, or NOCs. When you come back into coverage range, those e-mails are forwarded to you automatically. "

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Cool (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14687744)

coolio

Rule of Equivalents? (3, Insightful)

AdolChristin (694990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687747)

Is RIM hoping to invent around and get off the hook by invoking the Rule of Equivalents with the PTO?

Re:Rule of Equivalents? (2, Insightful)

XMilkProject (935232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688440)

In my understanding, the rule of equivalents meant that an item could infringe on a patent if it was even remotely equivalent.

But this is no longer valid, see this article. [eet.com]

Re:Rule of Equivalents? (1)

AdolChristin (694990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689224)

The Equivalents Doctrines prevent simple substitutions in products as a way of defeating patent protection (subbing Magnesium for Manganese for example.) I think, however, that one of the principles under the Equivalents Doctrines state that if a product has LESS functionality than a patent it does not infringe. It seems likely that RIM will invent a SUBSET of it's orginal functionality and then claim that it doesn't infringe under the Rule of Equivalents.

Re:Rule of Equivalents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14690261)

I can't really think of an application in which magnesium could be substituted for manganese. Really.

Re:Rule of Equivalents? (1)

MrPeach (43671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14691403)

Milk of Manganese?

Re:Rule of Equivalents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14688680)

Yeah, NTP is pretty gay, and I'm NOT talking about Network Time Protocol.

Re:Rule of Equivalents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14691277)

you mean that NTP patented first, had a REAL working system, and RIM made a similar and more popular system? Of course RIM should pay! As for gay there's not a male single employee I've seen at RIM that could be called even close to 'masculine' - it's most RIMbois and RIM fanboys that are pretty gay.... not that there's anything wrong with that, except anal sex, packing shit and sucking dick...

Why not store at the client end anyway? (3, Insightful)

lordkuri (514498) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687752)

I'm kind of confused. Why would RIM not store the emails at the blackberry server to begin with? Surely that would have been less resource intensive on their part, and more comfortable to clients in regards to security.

Someone who knows more about this care to clue me in?

Re:Why not store at the client end anyway? (4, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687819)

This will mean the blackberry server talking to the operator which in practice means the customer talking to the operator. The operators will not like it.

The main reason for BB success is the fact that RIM talks to the operator, not the customer. As a result the operators have considerably less security hassle and most importantly no billing disputes. So no matter how much they dislike RIM they prefer to deal with them.

While at it, I have always asked myself the question - is the encryption end-to-end or the messages are stored at RIM unencrypted. Or what are the possibilities for RIM to successfully escrow a key? After all all registration, pins, etc goes through it... All of the governmentcritter email in cleartext (or easily decryptable)... Interesting thought...
 

Questions (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688378)

What's an operator?

Can't RIM just leave their machines at the NOC and have them forward the email requests to the central server rather than storing the email? That should require no change in the user devices either, which would be the big pain for the consumers under any fix.

Operators = Cellular Network Providers (2, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689061)

When you get a Blackberry, you don't get it just from RIM.

RIM makes the devices themselves, but not the networks that they access. If you wanted to get a BB today, you'd go down to your local cellphone company of choice (well, of the ones that support the device you want to buy), and buy the handset and service from them. You might be able to buy the BlackBerry itself separately, but you're still going to need to go to a cell phone company to get service.

So you go to TMobile or whatever. They are the "operator." They have a system, also purchased from BlackBerry, which handles talking to your handheld device through their cellular network, and sending it email. When somebody sends an email to your BlackBerry's address, it goes first to RIM, and then to the cell-phone company's system, and then to your device. I'm not too familiar with how the BlackBerry system works (the changes in response to the patent involve where the email is being stored), but basically one of the reasons why RIM has been so successful, is that they make life pretty easy for the cellular carriers to offer BB service to their customers.

So the GP was speculating that this change might make life more difficult for the cellular carriers.

Re:Why not store at the client end anyway? (1)

eponymouse (943006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688581)

Yes, messages are encrypted end-to-end. RIM can't (easily*) decrypt mail in their system, because the encryption is based on a security key unique to each device and stored on the customers' BES.

* I say easily, because given the time and CPU cycles, any encryption algorithm is theorhetically crackable

It's probably not secure. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14688593)

I can't say about the Blackberry, but they are probably like Good Inc.; and that I can speak about.

Don't count on the messages being secure. I interviewed there once, and spoke with the guy who was handling the security. He impressed me as your typical wanna-be; familiar with the standard tools, but not familiar with attack techniques. You know, the typical slap-it-together-to-meet-the-buzzwords approach.

Anyone who thinks their messages here are secure is deluding themselves.

As far as the interview went, I shut that down fairly quickly. They had an absolutely rediculous NDA to sign. That's always a tip-off that working at the company will suck, when they try to screw you over when you first meet them. Clearly management didn't give a damn about the employees.

Re:Why not store at the client end anyway? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14689192)

RIM uses authenticated Diffie-Hellman key exchange, which is designed specifically to allow the key exchange data to be 'in the clear' and not be compromised. The older (pre 4.0) devices required a cradle or cable connection to exchange keys.

The RIM NOC has no idea what the keys are, and cannot see that data even if it is sitting in their NOC.

Re:Why not store at the client end anyway? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692665)

This will mean the blackberry server talking to the operator which in practice means the customer talking to the operator. The operators will not like it.

This all seems silly to me. Just have the operator give the handheld an IP address and establish an IMAPS connection using the IDLE construct and LDAPS if you need contacts. CalDAV over SSL should be here RSN.

Nobody has a personal Blackberry - they're all reading corporate e-mail, so they don't need a e-mail account from anybody but work.

But I guess that doesn't sell Keeper-style "Enterprise Servers" so why would anybody follow that business model...

Re:Why not store at the client end anyway? (1)

Ziwcam (766621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14693184)

Never underestimate the power of... something. I saw a kid at school today with a Black Berry... (college, but he's young, and definately not part of Corporate America(TM))

Re:Why not store at the client end anyway? (1)

Vandilizer (201798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687853)

True but then there would be a security issue. Right now RIM Controls the passage of messages around there network from the ground up. This makes them vary secure or just one big central target. Ether way they have control.

With this new system the messages are going to be waiting on a 3erd part system.

Now say I a some paranoid Government agency would I
A) have my messages stored at random server around the world
or
B) have them stored at on secure location where I can have them halted if need be?

Re:Why not store at the client end anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14688248)

Hm. I am sure the government users will be so happy that their gov't emails will be stored on a canadian server. I am sure there will be no backlash about that one.

Re:Why not store at the client end anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14688635)

> Why would RIM not store the emails at the blackberry server to begin with?

One reason is because it's one step nearer the client device. Sure, the mails originally come from the customer's email server (wherever that is), but to have something go and fetch them from there when a device comes back into coverage would delay transmission. Having mails at RIM's NOC means that there's one less connection to worry about.

How many mails RIM store when a device goes out of coverage is a different question though.

Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14687757)

Isn't that just common sense? Since when can you patent guaranteeing delivery of a message? The only thing hurting innovation in the U.S. is the broken patent and trademark system.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687812)

it's not hurting innovation. It's helping it. patents are what keep money flowing into new ideas. Otherwise, there's no reason to sink millions into anything; tyhere's no value to being the first rat to the mousetrap cause the second guys are gonna get the cheese and eat ur lunch.

the patent system is too lax, and the criteria for offering patents is flawed, but the system does not hurt innovation. Not at all.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (3, Insightful)

Manhigh (148034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687846)

And patent squatting, or whatever you care to call it when a company sits on a patent without utilizing it, simply to stifle competition, should be illegal.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687896)

I agree with you. Some method of actively tracking patents to determine that there is measurable progress towards marketing of the patent. If the patent-holder isn't moving to market with the innovation, then the patent is conditionally voided. I say conditionally, because if after it being voided, the original patent-holder should be given preference should they re-patent the innovation. Instances like this can be for example... when startyups run out of cash and suspend development while trying to re up, etc.

I agree totally.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687927)

You are 100% right.
A patent should only be valid if there is a product or service utilising it.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1)

devilsadvoc8 (548238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688330)

I understand the backlash against squatters but making it illegal to squat? That sounds a bit hard to enforce IMO. What if I come up with an idea that has some ramifications in the energy industry. However it is a bit before its time. 5 years later a cold fusion techology is invented which requires my idea? So my idea is invalid? I know this is an extreme idea but I am using hyperbole for a reason. What standards could someone devise and enforce to invalidate patent squatters. I think that for the benefit of the entire system we have to accept this detestible practice. It also has benefits in that these patent houses that just buy up patents are also purchasing them from the original holder who couldn't enforce or come up with a use themselves. In that manner they help the system.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689135)

I think if you came up with a patent for cold fusion, the energy companies would just kidnap you, torture you into transferring the patent to them, and then arrange for you to have a horrible-yet-regrettable accident while standing over the inlet hopper of a grinding machine at a dog food factory.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (2, Interesting)

planetmn (724378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688398)

Problem is, now you have to define utilizing. What if I patent a part of a larger system, but the rest of the system isn't ready for market yet. Does designing a system that would use that patent constitute utilizing it?

Personally, I think a system like this would work better:
Allow for an easier to get, low cost, shorter term patent (think helping the little guy) - Say less than $200 (no lawyer needed) and 2 years
Require that a prototype demonstrating the patent (not necessarily the end item) be required in order to upgrade the above patent to a full protection patent
I don't see that the problem is that patents are too easy to get. I think they are too easy for the wrong people, and too hard for the right ones. I don't have the $10k+ required to file a patent for something I want to develop in my garage. But I also don't want to spend two years developing it, and then get nailed for patent infringement because a year ago somebody patented something similar.

-dave

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (2, Interesting)

31415926535897 (702314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689001)

And patent squatting, or whatever you care to call it when a company sits on a patent without utilizing it, simply to stifle competition, should be illegal.

I would tend to agree, especially based on our current patent climate, but here is my concern:

I, personally, have several ideas that I think are "patent-worthy". I cannot afford a patent let alone the costs of (pre-)production. So let's say I scrape together enough cash to make a patent ($400-$5000 depending on the route you go), now what do I do with it? My options are to produce the product (I have already established that this is out of question financially), wait for someone to infringe on my patent and sue them (expensive and risky, especially for an individual trying to feed a family), or sell my patent to someone else.

If I sell the patent to someone else, I have a couple of options. One, I can try to sell/license it to a company that is in business related to the patent. So for most of my ideas, I could try to sell it to IBM, MS, Sandisk, etc., but the chances of them buying the patent are pretty slim. The other option I have is to sell the patent to a company that holds patents, like Invention Submission Corporation or perhaps a company like NTP. So I have an agreement with them that they either pay me a lump sum (far less than the value they see in the patent), or a percentage of profits from the patent. So they take on the risk and the financial burden, and I as a small player am pretty happy with my payout (perhaps I have enough now for one of my other ideas, to patent and then even start small-scale production).

I'm not saying that we have to protect the likes of NTP because of what I've just said, but I think there is some validity in these kind of companies that help out an individual. I don't know what that balance is or what kind of rules you would create to make sure that the system doesn't eventually kill innovation (especially from the small-time guy).

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14691337)

I, personally, have several ideas that I think are "patent-worthy". I cannot afford a patent let alone the costs of (pre-)production. So let's say I scrape together enough cash to make a patent ($400-$5000 depending on the route you go), now what do I do with it? My options are to produce the product (I have already established that this is out of question financially), wait for someone to infringe on my patent and sue them (expensive and risky, especially for an individual trying to feed a family), or sell my patent to someone else.

The original point of patents was not to feed the inventors family, but rather to promote scientific innovations that benefit the society (or at least American society) in general. The goal was as sort of a carrot on a stick to grant inventors temporary monopolies so that they could bring their market to product and reap the benefits of that and then afterwards anyone could copy that invention.

If you can't do that in 17 years, then your invention was most likley not that innovative.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1)

buck_wild (447801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14691796)

The government has the ability to use 'iminent domain' to give you 'fair market value (ha!)' for your house or land. It would be interesting to see it extend to this as well.

I can imagine cases where there may not actually (yet) be a product. My neighbor is working on a project now, for example, and has something like 37 patents. Some cover the device in total, the rest are for each piece. He's still working on it, ironing out all the miscilaneous wrinkles and such, so he doesn't currently have a working unit.

That said, if you give him an exemption because he's still 'working on it' then what's preventing a company from claiming the same thing? Perhaps a set period of time, say five years, from patent filing to product?

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (3, Insightful)

terradyn (242947) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688091)

the patent system is too lax, and the criteria for offering patents is flawed, but the system does not hurt innovation. Not at all.

The system is what is hurting innovation. It allows for companies like NTP to buy patents for the sole purpose of sueing people/companies that are actually innovating on the patent. My 2 cents is that patent law should require that any patents owned by individuals or corporation must be utilized for some product in the marketplace within an agreed upon timeframe. If it isn't, then it should go up for bid so that a person that wants to innovate using it can. If no one bids, it should just go into the public domain. Of course, there are lots of things that have to be worked out (timeframe, bid values, etc.), but you get the general idea.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (5, Funny)

mopslik (688435) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687841)

Since when can you patent guaranteeing delivery of a message?

Well, RIM had sent the Patent Office a message complaining about the "obviousness" of the patent, but somehow they never received it...

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687964)

Right now, when someone is out of wireless coverage range and can't immediately get e-mail access, RIM's service stores incoming messages on computers at one of its two network operations centers, or NOCs. When you come back into coverage range, those e-mails are forwarded to you automatically. "

This is SO obvious that a patent should never have been issued for it. What sort of level of "inventiveness" is required to envision this? Its an obvious consequence of developing ANY email service that, if the person isn't avaliable to receive it, you don't just send it to /dev/null.

Re:Well If That Isn't Worthy Of A Patent... (1, Insightful)

rcpitt (711863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688221)

Shades of the old dial-up UUCP network.

Our computer system (wimsey.com, earlier known as !vanbc) was the portal through which over 400 local and regional BBSs sent/received e-mail to the rest of the world, including Fido-net.

They dialed in periodically - and if mail for them arrived at our location we stored it until they connected. Seems pretty straight forward to me as prior art. This was mid 1980s and the technology was fairly old at that time.

The fact that these patents cover wireless merely means that the "physical" network element was wireless, not landlines - but the technical purpose and basic methods are likely identical.

On another note - in the mid '90s we had similar multi-jurisdictional (Vancouver, Kelowna, Beijing China, sites in USA) e-mail and dial-up cooperation where a central LDAP database identified which of the several regional servers any users' e-mail was on and no matter whether they dialed into their home system or one of the remotes, allowed them to retreive it directly. Similar to the work-around.

Small Change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14687818)

After reading the article it seems like the only thing that will be changed is moving the emails from the network operations centres to "...the servers that sit behind the firewall of a company or carrier network."

If that's the difference between infringing a patent and remaining royalty free then the whole patent system seems much too fickle at least from my non-legal background

A blackberry is... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14687822)

...an aggregate of droops.

It's a fruit.

Don't NOC it until you try it (5, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687837)

Right now, when someone is out of wireless coverage range and can't immediately get e-mail access, RIM's service stores incoming messages on computers at one of its two network operations centers, or NOCs. When you come back into coverage range, those e-mails are forwarded to you automatically.
Under the workaround, these waiting e-mails would be stored somewhere else -- on the servers that sit behind the firewall of a company or carrier network. A large part of the infringement of the NTP patents is based on the e-mails being stored at the NOC, analysts say.


They could have just renamed or recreated the NOC as something else like, 'HELL' - the Humongous Email Limbo Lockup.
This way, when NTP asks them how they did it, they can simply say 'Go to HELL.'

Re:Don't NOC it until you try it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14688792)

Thumbs up for the acronym

Explain this please (4, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687849)

RIM is asking the court not to impose an injunction on devices that have already been sold. The Canadian company argues that it already has an implied license with NTP on these devices, and so they shouldn't be covered by an injunction.

The reason: A jury found RIM guilty of infringing on NTP's licenses in 2002. RIM lost its bid to overturn that verdict. So, even if the Patent Office throws out NTP's patents, RIM still has to pay royalties for the time up until the patents are overturned.

Okay, if RIM is:

1: Having to pay royalties still on every unit sold.
2: Has a workaround to avoid the patent they are paying royalties on.
3: Says there's no difference to the end-user to use this workaround.
4: Says all new *ackBerries have the new code in them already.

Then why haven't they rolled out this workaround already ASAP. It would:

1: Make any court injunction moot.
2: Reduce the number of units that they owe royalties on.

Methinks there's more to this that's not being told yet.

Re:Explain this please (3, Insightful)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687903)

Maybe it's just one of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" scenarios. Maybe they don't want to switch to their backup plan just yet because it's not going to be as smooth as they claim, and since the current system works rather well, why not fight to keep it.

Re:Explain this please (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687999)

I would hazard the difference to be at the carrier.

All the talk of moving emails onto the carriers' network mean extra hardware for them (rather than just data transit)

RIM -> Carrier -> User

How would this affect roaming and multiple carriers, would a user connecting to a foreign carrier have to ping RIM who will have to check the mail on the carriers' system and upload the mail back to them?

If thats the case, I would imagine the carriers aren't going to be totally happy knowing that they are storing the emails for people who may not actually be on their network for extended periods.

Re:Explain this please (1)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688295)

I would get the impression that the carrier storing the e-mails would be the 'home' carrier for the blackberry user.

When the user goes within range, it will ping it's home carrier to request the e-mails.

Re:Explain this please (2, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688009)

It might look like admission of guilt, and thereby affect the court/patent cases?

RIM never denied patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14688049)

Read court documents.

RIM didn't make a slightest attempt to deny infringement.

Such tough assholes running this big publicly-owned company

Circumstantial Evidence... (1)

syrrys (738867) | more than 8 years ago | (#14690812)

Didn't you read the SUBJECT damnit?!

Re:Explain this please (2, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688109)

The end-users still have to update the software on servers and perhaps individual workstations in order to implement the workaround. RIM is bettting everything on winning the litigation. If they lose and have to pay damages, the fines they could have avoided by implenting the workaround now is miniscule in comparison. Therefore, they have chosen not to burden their users until it is absolutely necessary.

Re:Explain this please (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688914)

Yep. As far as I know, there's no way to push software updates to a Blackberry over the wireless network. So if the company I work for needs to do this, all of them across the country will have to be brought in to the nearest location with an IT tech.

The people who have Blackberries at the company I work for tend to be execs, or at least high-level businesspeople who are frequently on trips to other cities, so this will be a noticeable hassle for them.

Re:Explain this please (2, Insightful)

Soybean47 (885009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688112)

While I'm sure there are things that aren't being told, there are still fairly clear reasons for them to not implement this fix unless it's absolutely necessary.

In order for it to work, both the clients and the servers need to be updated with a patch. This is a manual process. If they say "roll it out now!" then all of a sudden, everyone who uses a blackberry is suddenly cut off until they AND their local server have applied a patch. And realize, the average blackberry user is at the executive level, and not the sort of person who applies patches. ;)

Interrupting blackberry service is something that I suspect they'd really really like to avoid.

Re:Explain this please (2, Informative)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688173)

They are stringing this out as long as they can. The patent will expire in a few more years.

Re:Explain this please (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689257)

Then why haven't they rolled out this workaround already ASAP.

Thats exactly what I thought. My guess would be that there is no workaround and that they are just using bully/scare tactics to push NTP around. I mean, why chose to pay royalties when you can just apply a workaround and save alot of dough? Seems odd.

Re:Explain this please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14689770)

There is a workaround, just not ready for all models of Blackberries yet...

Re:Explain this please (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689925)

Wow, it's almost as if you are commenting on a case that you haven't read anything about.

RIM could have saved tons of money by just paying of NTP in the first place, but it was RIM that refused to be bullied by NTP, and have vowed to fight it to the end, no matter the cost. NTP are bullies here, and RIM will refuse to bow to them.

Re:Explain this please (1)

XanMan (953571) | more than 8 years ago | (#14691086)

Exactly. Something's amiss.

I'm more concerned about this: BusinessWeek missed the important part of what RIM isn't saying: RIM mentions changes to "message queuing" and "message delivery." Businessweek pulled parts of the "queuing" explanation from the RIM whitepaper verbatim, but makes no mention of the "delivery" changes that RIM alludes to.

"Delivery" could get to the heart of the "push" technology.

http://www.blackberry.com/select/mme/pdfs/mme_over view.pdf [blackberry.com]

Text Messaging? (5, Interesting)

cloudscout (104011) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687857)

Maybe I'm completely missing the boat here, but I recall when I got my first cellphone capable of receiving text messages 10 years ago that those messages would be queued up on the carrier's servers until I turned my phone on or was in signal range. Would that not be prior art?

Re:Text Messaging? (1)

texaport (600120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688021)

I recall when I got my first cellphone capable of receiving text messages 10 years ago
that those messages would be queued up on the carrier's servers until...in signal range

To me, the non-legal issue is whether the Blackberry would have even come to market had
it always used the workaround (ie. unworkable, too expensive, infrastructure not scalable)

Maybe someone can otherwise point out a history lesson here, but the Blackberry success
always seemed to be simplicity, well-executed ... not some technological feat of integration.

Re:Text Messaging? (2, Informative)

GNU(slash)Nickname (761984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688060)

Well yes. It is prior art.

Prior art that NTP holds a patent on.

Re:Text Messaging? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14688730)

Yes, that's the point. That approach is not covered by the patent, so RIM won't have to pay royalties if they do it that way.

Re:Text Messaging? (1)

periol (767926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688948)

NTP's patents are based on work that was begun in the late 80's [com.com] . While I have no love for patents, these seem valid within the context of our current patent system.

Re:Text Messaging? (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14691136)

Maybe I'm completely missing something here, but how is this substantially different from the U.S. Postal Service queueing up my mail when I go on vacation? We have three parties---the postal service (RIM), the carrier (T-Mobile), and the customer (me). If the carrier sees mail building up in my box unread, he/she could assume that I'm not in the area and take it back to the post office. I've seen this happen in smaller communities where folks actually know their postal workers....

Effectively, by checking the mail regularly, the customer is telling the carrier that he/she is still in the area, in much the same way that the handshake between a cell phone and a cellular carrier tells the cell carrier that the phone is in the area. When the carrier sees that the person is home, the carrier notes that the problem has been resolved, and the postal service gives the queued up mail to the carrier to deliver to the customer.

Thus, it would appear that there is, in fact, evidence of prior art for this technology, available from an entity of the U.S. government since July 26, 1775.

Ladies and gentlemen, "obvious".

Good example (5, Interesting)

slackaddict (950042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14687875)

This is a good example of why you should not put all of your eggs in one basket. The US Federal Goverment uses Blackberries and this is a response to their mandate that no matter what happens to RIM over this patent dispute, Senators still need their Blackberries to work. Given other communication forms out there, I think it would be better for companies and governments to diversify or use an open standard for communication rather than relying on a single, vulnerable source for all of their commo needs.

Come again? (2, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688127)

There really is no competitor to the BlackBerry when it comes to a complete solution. I realize that its trendy to be dismissive, but if you haven't at least played around with one, don't knock it until you do. If there was a true OSS or even standards-based alternative, that would be one thing - but there isn't. And the Feds really shouldn't be spending tons of money to develop solutions rather than buying COTS packages that work.

I'd love to see someone come up with a true competitor to the Blackberry. Hasn't happened yet...

Re:Come again? (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689660)

There really is no competitor to the BlackBerry when it comes to a complete solution. I realize that its trendy to be dismissive, but if you haven't at least played around with one, don't knock it until you do. If there was a true OSS or even standards-based alternative, that would be one thing - but there isn't.

Of course there is. What does a Blackberry do that something like a Treo with an IMAP client and web browser built into it can't do? I've seen my coworker's Blackberry and I'm not very impressed with it. He has to have his mail pulled by RIM from his IMAP servers and then pushed to his device. That seems like an unnecessary extra step IMHO. I'd rather just have a device that could talk directly to my IMAP servers and download the mail to my device when I want to check my mail. People seem to have Blackberry on the brain and think it's some kind of unique communications device when in reality it's nothing but a glorified PDA with push-based e-mail.

Re:Come again? (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14690437)

Well, it's tricky. Your argument about the Treo is a little off-beam - there is a big difference between a push e-mail device and a pull device; of course for many, including me, that difference is the reason we don't want one!

Well, in my case it's also that I'm the messaging admin so I don't want to have to deploy enterprise server.

But of course with some work you can make any modern smartphone do push e-mail.

I think the selling point of the crackberry has always been that it works out of the box.

With other devices there is always a degree of tweaking and configuration involved. For me, I'd far sooner have my P910i because it can do so much more, but hey! I'm a geek. A PHB or a rap star prefers something that just works.

Re:Come again? (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#14690808)

I think the selling point of the crackberry has always been that it works out of the box.

But how many companies were executives are using Blackberries *don't* have an existing e-mail infrastructure in place? I imagine it's probably not very many. I guess I just don't understand the big deal between getting your mail "pushed" to you vs. just having your PDA/phone/whatever periodically polling for new mail from your company's mail server. This all seems to be much ado about nothing.

Re:Come again? (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14701358)

A lot may be down to tariffing; certainly here in the UK there are no cheap data options, darn it.

Re:Good example (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688358)

You got the problem right, but the solution wrong. Congress needs to pound the USPO's ass.

Re:Good example (2, Insightful)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689287)

This is a good example of why you should not put all of your eggs in one basket. The US Federal Goverment uses Blackberries and this is a response to their mandate that no matter what happens to RIM over this patent dispute, Senators still need their Blackberries to work. Given other communication forms out there, I think it would be better for companies and governments to diversify or use an open standard for communication rather than relying on a single, vulnerable source for all of their commo needs. The option already exists. They could talk in person, on the phone, e-mail each other, use an instant messaging program, two cups and a string, etc.. They chose to use a blackberry because it is easy and convienent. If blackberry service ever did come to a halt, its like the people would be scratching their heads trying to figure out how to communicate. The fact is, blackberries work, so people use them, if they cease to work, people will switch to something else that works.

Maybe I'm dense (2, Insightful)

MichaelKaiserProScri (691448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688270)

How does what RIM is doing infringe on NTP's patent, but POP3 or IMAP does not? If you send me an e-mail and my laptop is "out of range", that is "off" or "not in range of a 802.11 gateway" it goes to my mail server and waits there until I log on. Then I retrieve the buffered messages and display them on my "wireless device".

Re:Maybe I'm dense (2, Insightful)

witwerg (26651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688514)

IANAL, but one could argue that because the NIP stuff involves a PUSH delivery mechanism (if I understand everytihng correctly) to clients, POP is definitely not infringing(all PULL), and I don't think that IMAP would, (I don't recall pushed updates to client but it is possible). But otherstuff like certian RPC mail protocols really do push stuff out, IIRC (maybe just the headers though). so The REAL question is why doesn't _exchange_ infringe :-D.

Re:Maybe I'm dense (1)

croddy (659025) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689223)

PUSH -- you mean like an MTA connecting to port 25 of a remote mail host, saying "hey, I have some mail for your user" -- or if the remote mail host is down, queueing it for later delivery?

it's not like PINE users ever had to go poll every SMTP server in the universe to find out if they had new mail. the only thing "PUSH" about this is that it's in the last-mile delivery rather than the second-to-last-mile. this is so far beyond obvious that it's absurd.

Re:Maybe I'm dense (1)

Queer Boy (451309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692437)

The REAL question is why doesn't _exchange_ infringe

Because you can't use extortion tactics against Microsoft.

Re:Maybe I'm dense (3, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688549)

It is different because the email is not stored on a standards based IMAP or POP server, it is stored on RIM's server which talks to your Blackberry using a proprietary protocol, and to your corporate email server using a proprietary plugin which works only on Exchange. RIM's protocol and server add the important feature of "lock-in" to the system. Yes, you could do it all with SMTP and IMAP, but "Blackberry and Exchange" sounds a lot more user friendly to the people who make purchasing decisions than "IMAP and SMTP".

Re:Maybe I'm dense (0)

anandrajan (86137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688551)

How does what RIM is doing infringe on NTP's patent, but POP3 or IMAP does not?

You don't login to get your email. Email is pushed to you when your cell phone has access to a T-Mobile cell network. For example, I have a T-Mobile Blackberry 7290 and when I switch the phone on and assuming that I have access to a T-Mobile wireless network, the email (that has been sitting on a blackberry server somewhere) is automatically pushed to my phone.

Re:Maybe I'm dense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14688652)

OK, so maybe not POP3/IMAP but SMTP is definately PUSH, and queues, and has been around since 1982 (RFC 821). But obviously it's not that simple, since a gazillon lawyers are gettings paid a gazillon dollars per hour and they would have spotted this

All eyeballs are not equal (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689466)


a gazillon lawyers are gettings paid a gazillon dollars per hour and they would have spotted this

I'm not so sure. My lawyer misses things that I think are obvious, but catches things that I never would have thought to look for. There may be a reason we spent years studying different subjects. I don't read whatever it is he reads, and I doubt he'd know what an RFC was or where to find it unless someone told him.

--MarkusQ

Re:Maybe I'm dense (1)

MichaelKaiserProScri (691448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689042)

So SMS (Short Messaging Service) violates this pattent? I regularly e-mail stuff to "myphonenumber@vtext.com". It goes to Verizon's SMS server and gets pushed to my cell phone. If my phone is off or out of the area, it gets held on the server and pushed when I come back....

Re:Maybe I'm dense (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688709)

Actually, from what little I understand of the RIM system, it seems no different from the way that SMTP, or Simple Mail Transportation Protocol works. If I send an email to x@domain.com, it first of all goes to my local SMTP server, which then tries to connect to the mail server defined in the MX (Mail eXchanger) record for domain.com. If, for some reason, it can't get through, it stores the message, and keeps on trying (for a mail admin defined number of times) until it reaches the mail system on domain.com.

You can also have, for example, a third party "buffer" you email, that is, set you MX record to isp.com, who will recieve mail for domain.com, and then send it on to domain.com when it is available. This seems to be basically what RIM is doing is acting as a buffer, or routing host for email to RIM service subscribers. I don't see how you could patent this, because it is the basis of the entire SMTP/Internet Mail system.

ttyl
          Farrell

Re:Maybe I'm dense (2, Funny)

Bravoc (771258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688988)

Here's an idea:

We could write our messages down on paper and pay a bunch of people with psycotic tendencies to run around and deliver them to each us.

If they can find us and hand us the "en-vel-opes" (we'll call them), Done! Message delivered, no patent violation! It would clearly be a problem if we just had these people like, leave them in a nearby box or something for us. So, instead, until they find the actual hand of the recipient of the "en-vel-opes", they can just take the messages back to their warehouse - patent problem solved

woo-hoo!

Re:Maybe I'm dense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14691578)

Well, think about it. An army of men in woool pants going door-to-door delivering catalogs?

I don't think so...

Re:Maybe I'm dense (1)

rnelsonee (98732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14690046)

POP3 and IMAP are not wireless communcation systems, which is what the patent describes.

Re:Maybe I'm dense (1)

MichaelKaiserProScri (691448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14690269)

POP3 and IMAP are wireless communication systems when they are used from my laptop connected via 802.11G!!!

Quick lesson on the OSI layers. POP3, IMAP, and the protocol RIM are using are all LAYER 7 stuff, Application layer. The fact that a network is wireless, fiber, ethernet, or carried by pigeon is a LAYER 1 thing... The RIM protocol is not inherently wireless. It's just a scheme for encoding and distributing bits. Those bits happen to be carried by a wireless network, but they could just as well be carried by pigeons.....

Re:Maybe I'm dense (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692232)

... or a ham radio. This is something that the amateur radio folks have been doing for some time now. Much of this is based on store and forward technology (anyone remember uucp).

Prior art, perhaps?

Re:Maybe I'm dense (1)

rnelsonee (98732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14693220)

Yeah, you're right. I'm aware of the OSI levels, I was just told that the patent was such-and-such wireless ("wireless" specifically appearing in the patent). I just read a copy of it, and sure enough, no wireless, so never mind my post.

Patent Change (1)

XMilkProject (935232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688401)

Some people have said that a patent holder should have to be actively developing a patent for it to be valid. I don't think this is the case. A patent protects the idea/plan/mechanism, and patenting your product and then never building the product is fine, you are more than welcome to make your income by licensing out use of your idea. The company should however have to actively protect the patent, like a trademark. If a company patents something and hides it in a drawer until a handfull of fortune 500 companies are using it, then whips it out for a lawsuit, the patent should be invalidated.

The real problem here is the granting of patents for obvious ideas, such as queuing an email that cannot yet be delivered.

Tech patents need to be fairly short-term, and need to have an incredibly difficult obviousness test to pass.

A room of experts on the subject should be fully and entirely briefed on the problem, and list obvious solutions. If any of the solutions they list coincide with the pending patent, then it must be declined.

Re:Patent Change (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689040)

If a company patents something and hides it in a drawer until a handfull of fortune 500 companies are using it, then whips it out for a lawsuit, the patent should be invalidated.
I don't think it should be invalidated, but I think that failing to enforce it for a specific application should create a tacit liscence for that application. That way if someone comes along with an improved version, you can still enforce you valid patent on that usage.
IE:
1) create novel method for no loss compressing the wikipedia to a single byte.
2) patent method
3) not enforce patent when wikipedia uses it to save server space.
4) attempt to enforce it 4 years later
5) get thrown out of court - fialure to enforce implies tacit permision.
6) enforce patent when ACME press uses same technology to put wikipedia in a digital book.
7) make money.
IANAL but AFIK there is nothing in the liscencing process that says you have to strike the same deal with everyone for the same liscence. If there is, you can always create seperate liscences for grandfathered/new businesses - probably stipulating that the grandfathered liscence is not transferable in the case of buy-out.
Also there is substantial precident for this - trademarks are the first thing to come to mind. I believe copyright is another.
Also if you voluntarily give your car keys to someone, you can't have them arrested for stealing your car - giving the keys is giving tacit permision to drive the vehicle.
Perhaps more on point, if you let people in a bar before 4PM without a covercharge, you can't decide at 9PM in the middle of a concert to demand the covercharge from people who have stayed. Allowing you to stay after 4 without charging you is implicit permision to stay without a covercharge. It's fine if you stated you would do it at the start and you didn't get around to it until 9, but you can't change the rules in the middle of the game. It's called bait & switch - or simply fraud - when it's physical objects or services. If businesses are citizens, why shouldn't IP should be treated as objects(or is permission to use IP a service?)

Re:Patent Change (1)

jabelar (913707) | more than 8 years ago | (#14690079)

The problem with requiring enforcement is that you have to prove when the patent holder knew there was something infringing. Just because I suspect RIM has violated my patent does not mean I have enough grounds to enforce it.

Re:Patent Change (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14690666)

The problem with requiring enforcement is that you have to prove when the patent holder knew there was something infringing. Just because I suspect RIM has violated my patent does not mean I have enough grounds to enforce it.
Not really, I file with the govt & courts saying I believe RIM is violating my patent number 12345 subsection 5 because their product does [this]. I have just attempted to enforce my patent. Even if I am wrong, I have shown I intend to regulate the usage of my patented idea.

Re:Patent Change (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689953)

why would you want protection on a plan/etc for something you won't implement?

Re:Patent Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14690044)

The real problem here is the granting of patents for obvious ideas, such as queuing an email that cannot yet be delivered


Actually I believe that is a standard requirement for all patents in the US.
I've begun to wonder just how clueless (or corrupt) the patent examaners are. Maybe I should patent one of those drinking bird toys with a patent approved rubber stamp glued to the nose. They'd probably approve it, and then order an entire case of them...

Re:Patent Change (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14693156)

Some people have said that a patent holder should have to be actively developing a patent for it to be valid. I don't think this is the case. A patent protects the idea/plan/mechanism, and patenting your product and then never building the product is fine

I disagree completely. I think you need to at least have enough research and development behind a patent to demonstrate that the idea your patenting works. At the very least, that there is supporting evidence that the concept of your patent works.

In your example, someone could patent matter / anti-matter warp propulsion and be able to sit on it, even without demonstrating any validity to the methods in the patent.

A patent should not consist of "A method that sends e-mail from a server to a wireless client" alone. There should be something, anything, beneath it that shows proof of concept.

Another example of what patents really do (4, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14688606)

In another stunning example, the patent office is once again proven to be not the receptacle of revolutionary ideas or the catalyst of innovation, but rather the repository of ideas nobody is allowed to think any more. Or needs to.

If Push is the problem then Pull (2, Insightful)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689237)

If I read some of the posts and the junk surounding this issue. The big problem is that RIM holds the mail and pushes it as soon as you log back into the network.
If that's the case, just change it and have the BB specifically request the mail.
Current:
BB: Hello I'm back.
RIM: That's nice, here's your mail.
Non infringing:
BB: Hello I'm back, can I have my mail.
RIM: That's nice, here's your mail.
From what I saw of the workaround blurb, RIM is just going to store it offsite and then request it back so they can push it just like they do now.
By the way, IMO, if either of these things circumvent the patent then it's less useful than an equivalent weight of toilet paper.

Re:If Push is the problem then Pull (1)

punky (207913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14690220)

By the way, IMO, if either of these things circumvent the patent then it's less useful than an equivalent weight of toilet paper.

Less useful, except of course for past monetary damages running at least back to 2001, which should fit well within the multi-million dollar range.

Patent Reading (1)

jerryodom (904532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14689259)

Its amazing how these patents work out on paper. Reading patents a while back while researching I could swear that a dozen different patents were the same damn thing. If RIM gets their work around its likely to end up being hundreds of millions of dollars in modifications all for a line of text no longer than my slashdot post inserted into a half dozen different places in one patent that looks 99% like NTP's. Thats got to be at least a million bucks per character.

Danger's Hiptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14690156)

So how does Danger's Hiptop http://hiptop.com/ [hiptop.com] not infringe on the NTP patents?

Re:Danger's Hiptop (1)

Bill Walker (835082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692930)

The Hiptop 1, at least, would check for new messages from the server every 5 minutes or so. It wasn't true push.

RIM Does NOT store messages for later delivery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14690222)

RIM only stores messages for later delivery for Blackberry users with out a Blackberry Enterprise Server. Basically providing a hosted BES. In Canada, the carriers used to host this on their own services, but now they all use RIM's hosted solution.

For companies with a BES of their own, the only place those messages are held are on the company's own email servers and the device. RIM and the Carrier don't store anything.

IF the BES can not see the Blackberry when it tries to send the message header, it gives up until the next message has arrived and needs to be forwarded out. If it gets a response from the Blackberry at that point it sends both the new and pending messages to the device.

RIM is routing the messages to the right vendor and hence to the device. The transmission is point to point encrypted with AES.

this shows RIM extreme vulnerability (1)

waldo2020 (592242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692648)

Basically - if their NOC shuts down due to power (or backup) failure, virus infestation etc. the entire world's population of CrapBerries is dead in the water. Even with a backup NOC, there are about 5 million units worldwide that route through the Waterloo NOC and rely on it's monitoring their status, so they can "push". At least with this workaround (ahem, subterfuge) there will be other storage locations to store the messages, but also many new points of failure. Presumably the NOC must still tell the remote message stores (BES or carrier servers) to start sending - still making the NOC the Achilles heel. Suerly they must have redundant internet and dedicated links to the major US carriers, but also routed through common routers - but what if all their fibre is cut by a bulldozer?

RIM a scourge on society? (1)

David Webb (883154) | more than 8 years ago | (#14705229)

IMO RIM is a vile corporation and a blight on society. We would all be better off without these obtrusive devices cluttering up our lives. I firmly stand behind NTP and favor a shutdown of all service inside the U.S. Write to your congressmen and let them now how you feel about this despicable undesirable corporate tick.
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