September 2, 2005 3:47 PM PDT

Microsoft, Intel split on BlackBerry spat

Microsoft and Intel are taking opposing sides in a long-running patent dispute involving the BlackBerry handheld, a case that threatens U.S. sales of the wireless e-mail device.

Friend-of-the-court briefs filed last week by both companies and reviewed by CNET News.com reveal that Microsoft wants the courts to re-evaluate a 2002 district court decision that found BlackBerry maker Research In Motion infringed patents owned by Virginia-based patent holder NTP.

"Microsoft sees a benefit to dragging out the legal fight between RIM and NTP because it could limit the amount of BlackBerry devices sold."
--Todd Kort, Gartner analyst

RIM's BlackBerry devices and messaging service allow wireless always-on access to e-mail and corporate data on portable devices. NTP claims that RIM violates its patents covering the use of radio frequency wireless communications in e-mail systems.

Microsoft, which competes with RIM's software products, claims the NTP case establishes a rule where U.S. patents should not, for legal purposes, extend outside the country's borders. That contradicts court statements made during Microsoft's own legal tussles with Eolas and AT&T, the company said.

It creates "an incentive for American companies to locate certain aspects of their systems outside the United States, primarily to avoid infringement liability. Such an outcome would likely result in loss of jobs, skilled workers, capital, and information technology abroad," Microsoft argued.

Intel has taken the opposite end of the debate. Its 10-page opinion supports RIM's argument and faults NTP for not taking precautions to include language that covered international borders.

"Instead they chose to claim systems with many components and ran the risk that such systems would not be practiced entirely within this country," Intel said.

Intel and Microsoft both claim they have no vested interest in the outcome of the NTP-RIM case and only want to set the legal record straight.

But Gartner analyst Todd Kort suggests the team that makes up the Wintel juggernaut may only have their own best interests at heart.

"Intel has an interest in resolving RIM's case quickly because all of the next generation of BlackBerry devices will be based on Intel chips. Microsoft sees a benefit to dragging out the legal fight between RIM and NTP because it could limit the amount of BlackBerry devices sold," Kort said.

RIM has been able to continue selling BlackBerry devices in the United States while the court reviews an appeal of the 2002 decision.

Third parties unlikely to sway case
Representatives for Intel and Microsoft were not immediately available to comment on NTP v. RIM. A RIM representative declined to talk about Intel or Microsoft's involvement in the case, citing confidentiality clauses in the dispute as well as a policy of not commenting on legal issues.

Earlier this week, NTP co-founder Donald Stout told CNET News.com that his company is not too concerned that Microsoft's court filing will reopen the case and leave NTP vulnerable for a retrial. Instead, Stout said Microsoft probably took its steps because it considers RIM's domination of the wireless e-mail space a threat to its own Windows Mobile software plans.

"They're very concerned of what will happen if RIM continues to gain market share," Stout said.

While cases are sometimes influenced by amicus briefs, or third-party opinions, Kort noted that neither Intel nor Microsoft's views should have a devastating impact on the outcome of the court's decision.

"We are telling clients that we don't think the courts will impose an injunction at this time," Kort said. "The U.S. Patent Office is taking care of that. They have been throwing out NTP patents right and left."

NTP filed its latest legal papers on Wednesday in response to RIM's Aug. 16 filing asking for a retrial and rehearing of the 2002 decision. RIM has two weeks to file its final response.

Judges with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington recently withdrew the initial 59-page opinion and issued a new 74-page opinion clarifying the definition of NTP's "method" patents.

NTP and RIM will now wait for the appeals court to decide whether to grant a rehearing. If it does, both parties will likely be asked to file additional briefs on the issues. However things turn out at the appeals court (whether or not rehearing is granted), either NTP or RIM will have the opportunity to ask the Supreme Court to review the Federal Circuit's decision.

The elongated legal process has proven costly for RIM. The company recently reported spending millions of dollars in legal fees, not to mention lost revenue from shareholders turning from a perceived patent problem.

A tentative $450 million licensing settlement that RIM owes NTP also hinges on the court's decision.

Both RIM and NTP have publicly stated there is no guarantee of a positive outcome and that the legal disputes could extend for years.

5 comments

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Typical MSFT, cant compete on Quality & Merits, use the COurt, how ironic
When MSFT cant be the first or the best, (if they ever were) then
they will use ANY means to drag down a better product, even
resorting to going to court. No sooner than they get out of one
case with grime and guilt on them, they run right back to court
to sling crap on others. This company is a bunch of white collar
criminals, theives, and technology muckrakers. They are Far
from being innovators, they copy, borrow, steal swindle, double-
cross, break promises, reverse-engineer, bribe, lobby, and
indiscriminately spew forth marketing lies, to sway anyone they
can towards them. They are also one of the most predatory,
non-contributing companies on the planet. Nothing they make
relies on another company to provide them with raw materials,
short of some blank CDs and pens or pencils. They take more
money from the economy than they send into the economy, they
close companies down with monopolistic practices, and run
people out of work when they release market dominating, half-
as*ed product bundles. There is nothing much good to say
about them, other than they are a perfect example of a business
with little sense of ethics. The sooner people in China start to
copy and sell XP for $1.00 the sooner it will be fairly priced,
what a bunch of crooks, just like Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson
decided in the first anti-trust trial, they are hoodlums.
Posted by educateme (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What a puppet!
Wow! Imagine that, another anti-microsoft response from you. You just don't have anything else to do but parrot off the same old lines every time there is a Microsoft article on CNet?

It's getting old, come up with something new :-)
Posted by (3 comments )
Link Flag
Right, I am almost running out of angles to show you
Its not that I have nothing else to do, its just that the daily news
this company chooses to make are game for hard looks at the
way they dance from one stand to another, as though what they
want is ALL that matters. I am certainly aware that the world
"runs" on money, and a lot of it on Micorosft software, but that
is the very place that needs a magnifying glass on motives. The
M.O. of MSFT is so cut in stone that they could not break from
tradition, setting an example of playing "along" with others,
rather they want to "take the ball and run away with it" lest any
other company, or entity have a fair chance, or play, at setting a
course of their own, without MSFT, adopting, or bastardizing the
next great idea someone else has. That is a very exact reason
why I give them the close watch, as do hundreds of others who
are just as wary. That you like them, if thats the case, is your
choice; that I find their ethics, and technique, obviously sloppy,
is what my gripe is about.
Posted by educateme (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
attn mr swift
A) I would prefer a different (read less costly) OS TOO.(this eliminates Apple products also)
but
B) until open source is supported by more programs I need to use a OS that gives me the freedom to chose my programs (thankfully there are many open source people porting to Windows so I can use some open source on my XP)

so
C) I don't need to be disgusted by your rancid bile one hundred and one times to understand where you are coming from

and BTW:
stop hitting the carrige return(aka enter key) every time you get to the end of the width of your input box... ONLY press enter when you wish to start a new paragraph (cnet editor automatically word wraps)

It is hard to read your entries since they wrap one word and then start a new line
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
Link Flag
 

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