NTP and Research in Motion (RIM) have been locked in a lawsuit for several years, with NTP accusing RIM of infringing on seven of its patents related to wireless email.
Earlier this year, the two companies announced a settlement, in which RIM paid $450 million for a perpetual license for the patents. However, this settlement has started to break down, and the two are going back to court to work out some of the details.
Even as this is going on, though, the whole basis for the lawsuit is eroding.
Over the course of this lawsuit, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has effectively struck down four of the seven NTP patents on the grounds that they shouldn’t have been granted in the first place, as they were for technologies that had already been used by other companies.
Now, according to Reuters, the Patent Office has struck down two more of these patents, which means that NTP’s entire case now hinges on a single patent, and RIM expects a favorable ruling on this one soon.
“All seven patents were unanimously rejected by a panel of three senior patent examiners as per the newly revised and more rigorous re-examination policy introduced by the USPTO earlier this year,” Mark Guibert, a RIM vice president, said.
Might Might Not Matter
NTP has a right to appeal the Patent Office’s ruling, but RIM co-chief executive Jim Balsillie recently told Reuters that his company has developed a “workaround” that would allow BlackBerries to continue to function as they do now, but doesn’t infringe on any of NTP’s patents.
Of course, this could simply be an attempt by RIM to get better terms out of NTP in their ongoing negotiations over the exact terms of their settlement.
Thanks to Geek.com for the tip.