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December 22, 2005

RIM Patent Ruling To Stop 'Frivolous' Lawsuits: Researcher

Courtesy of Mobile Pipeline

The rejection of five NTP mobile e-mail patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) discourages frivolous patent lawsuits and will foster "wide-open competition" in the wireless e-mail market, a market research firm said Thursday.

NTP has sued Research In Motion, claiming that RIM's BlackBerry service violates its patents regarding mobile e-mail, a suit that some have speculated will lead to a cessation of BlackBerry service in the U.S. While the matter has not yet been settled, the USPTO has rejected the five patents on which NTP is basing its case.

That's a good thing, according to market researcher Carmi Levy of Info-Tech Research Group.

"The USPTO announcement sends two strong messages to the wireless market," Levy said. "The first is that predictions of BlackBerry's imminent demise were highly premature and unnecessarily inflammatory. The second is that life will get tougher on companies whose business model consists of using patents to sue successful vendors instead of competing for clients and markets."

Levy said that the USPTO ruling "pulls the rug out from under NTP's court case." More important, the case was seen as a precedent that would, if successful, enable other patent holders to file similar suit.

"If the original NTP/RIM lawsuit is ultimately tossed out of court, other cases that were riding on NTP's coattails will have less chance of success," Levy said. "The end of litigious frivolity could be upon us."

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