Between a declining market share, delays in releasing their new operating system, and the loss of roughly 5,000 jobs due to corporate restructuring, one would think that business for Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry, is having a rough time. But that’s only part of the story.
A jury in United States District Court in San Francisco recently ruled against RIM for infringing a patent held by Mformation, a player in the mobile technology sector. RIM was ordered to pay $147.2 million in damages. That comes to $8 per royalty received for roughly 18.4 million users in the United States. The judgment, however, does not include damages for users located outside of the United States, or public sector customers. Had those customers been included in the judgment, the total damages would’ve been well in excess of $600 million.
According to the civil complaint, RIM violated two patents held by Mformation, producers of mobile management software. Mformation stated in a civil complaint that they gave patented technology details to RIM while the two companies were discussing licensing issues, but RIM passed on the deal. Mformation further alleged that RIM made some modifications, and used the software for their BlackBerry mobile devices.
Displeased with the jury’s verdict, RIM’s counterargument is that Mformation’s patents lacked validity. That said, according to RIM, a motion has been filed in federal court to undo the jury’s verdict. A spokesperson for RIM indicated the court will have to rule on the “obviousness” of whether or not RIM violated Mformation’s software patent.
The recent verdict against RIM appears to be another bad omen for RIM’s continued viability. Over the past few years, BlackBerry’s advantage in the PDA market has shrunk considerably. An increase in Apple and Android options, combined with a decline in sales during the first quarter of their fiscal year, BlackBerry doesn’t seem to have the mojo they once enjoyed.
Perhaps things will turn around for RIM once they finally unveil their BlackBerry 10 operating system, which is viewed by some as a jumpstart for Research In Motion’s continued success.
As you can see, copyright, trademark, and patent infringement litigation is costly. Even though your business may never knowingly infringe on another company’s patent, there’s always the possibility that’ll have to defend against a plaintiff’s claim of patent infringement. That’s why it makes sense to have an experienced intellectual property lawyer advising you and your business on these issues. An attorney who understands copyright, patent, and trademark law can possibly save your business from ruin.
On the flipside, if you have reason to believe another company is infringing on a patent owned by your business, a lawyer specializing in patent and trademark law can help protect your patented product, idea, or methodology.
Contact us today to begin the conversation.