BlackBerry maker wins UK patent dispute

2 February 2006 Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of the popular BlackBerry mobile email device, has won a patent dispute in the UK that threatened to jeopardise the company’s ability to maintain the service.

The case was brought against both RIM UK and T-Mobile UK by Luxembourg-based Inpro Licensing, which claimed the two companies had used proxy-server technology in their mobile email devices that infringed upon a patent it had acquired in 1996.

This claim was originally made only after RIM had asked the English High Court to revoke Inpro’s patent on the grounds that the technology was not new when it was issued, and was “obvious”.

Mr Justice Pumfrey sided with RIM in the dispute, ruling that Inpro’s claim to the patent was invalid. Precise details of the judgement have not been released – it is believed that it contains confidential technical information.

A similar case brought by Inpro against T-Mobile in Germany was also defeated last week.

RIM also received a significant boost in its ongoing dispute in the US, with patent-holding company NTP. On 1 February 2006, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected NTP’s claim to the fifth patent upon which it says RIM is infringing.

Now five out of five patents under dispute have received preliminary rejection from the US patent authority. Final confirmation is expected within a month.

But the case is not yet over: NTP could appeal any decision against it. It is also seeking an injunction against BlackBerry that would prevent it operating while the patent dispute was still on-going. That hearing will take place in February.

Meanwhile, US government departments have expressed concern that any interruption of the BlackBerry service, could damage their ability to operate.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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