Sunday, December 18, 2005

BlackBerry War: News Roundup

The latest news on the RIMM/NTP dispute, carefully gathered from hand-picked news sources around the planet:

USPTO to complete patent review with "special dispatch"

The LA Times reports the Patent Office will move with alacrity:

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said it would try to complete with "special dispatch" a review of patents that could result in the shutdown of Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry e-mail device in the U.S...

Bloomberg News adds more detail:

``Given the district court's concerns that the office has delayed the proceedings and the outstanding public interest in ensuring that these proceedings are acted upon with special dispatch, the office has assigned a dedicated examining team to handle all of the co-pending proceedings,'' the patent office said in a Dec. 14 letter.

The patent office was responding to a request by NTP to give it more time to respond to actions by the agency. The patent office shortened the normal 60-day response time to 30 days. The agency, in rejecting NTP's request, said the 30 days was all that was required by law.

There were five patents involved in the lawsuit. Two were found to be infringed, two were found not to be infringed, and one was sent back to the trial court by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, which specializes in patent law.

The patent office, in a first round of review, rejected all five patents. The three non-final rejections were in a secondary review, and the agency has said it expects its next step to be a final rejection.

Spencer yesterday ordered the two sides to submit written arguments on the injunction issue to him by Jan. 17, with responses due Feb. 1. He said he will set a hearing date in January.

... The court case is NTP Inc. v. Research In Motion Ltd., 01cv767, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).

Is NTP trying to "bog down the patent office"?

RIMarkable reports:

The reason for the urgency is because the USPTO claims that the patent holder, Virginia based patent holding firm NTP, is improperly attempting to slow down anticipated rejections of the patents RIM was found guilty of infringing upon.

“NTP has been improperly attempting to slow down the anticipated rejections from the patent office, even going so far as to recently attempt [sic] to bog down the patent office with a highly unusual request to process filings for over 30,000 new patent claims,'’ Research In Motion spokesman Mark Guibert said in an e-mail.

Court timing details

RIMarkable also has more clarity on court proceedings and their timing:

U.S. District Judge James Spencer has set final brief filing deadlines of February 1st for NTP and Research in Motion in the NTP vs. RIM patent infringement case. Both sides have until January 17th to file briefs and until the start of February to respond to each other before filing final briefs.

Judge Spencer will contact representatives from both sides to schedule a court hearing next month and it is believed that it would occur about a week after the final brief deadline.

Microsoft Mobile Devices Under Legal Fire

There's no safe haven for mobile email users, based upon this article by David Haskin:

Research In Motion's ongoing legal battle against NTP has been much-discussed and could well lead to BlackBerry service being stopped in the U.S. Now, Visto has sued Microsoft, claiming that Windows Mobile 5.0 infringes on its mobile e-mail patents. And, even more intriguingly, it has licensed NTP's patents and is now co-owned by NTP...

...Visto would like you to think that it is a safe harbor compared to either RIM or Microsoft. But from where I sit, its gambit is risky; should it lose, a relatively small company like Visto could disappear in a hurry. In either case, as has been the case with NTP, it could take years for it to win or lose its case against Microsoft.

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