February 9, 2006 10:10 AM PST

RIM's work-around revealed

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion on Thursday announced details of how its new software work-around, designed as a backup if U.S. courts impose an injunction later this month, will be released to customers.

The specifics of the work-around come days before a scheduled Feb. 24 hearing on a possible injunction that would shut down most U.S. sales and service of the mobile e-mail device.

RIM lost the patent infringement suit that U.S. patent-holding firm NTP filed against it in 2003. The court granted NTP an injunction, but it was stayed pending RIM's appeals.

Now time is running out for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM. And even though the company says it believes it has strong arguments against an injunction, it has developed the work-around as a last resort to ensure that service to its customers won't be interrupted.

"RIM's work-around provides a contingency for our customers and partners and a counterbalance to NTP's threats," Jim Balsillie, RIM co-chief executive, said in a statement. "This will hopefully lead to more reasonable negotiations, since NTP risks losing all future royalties if the work-around is implemented."

James Wallace, an attorney with Wiley Rein & Fielding and NTP's lead counsel, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Specifically, RIM has developed a software update called the BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition. As the name suggests, the software is capable of operating in different modes that can be remotely activated by RIM through its Network Operations Center (NOC).

If an injunction is not granted, the software will operate in "standard mode," which is identical to how the current BlackBerry software works today. But if an injunction is ordered, RIM can activate the "U.S. mode" remotely via the NOC. The work-around designs would then automatically be applied for each handset and corporate e-mail server containing the Multi-Mode Edition software update.

Once consumers download the work-around, RIM said, the software upgrade will be invisible to them. Functionality of the BlackBerry devices and servers will remain the same even when it's working in U.S. mode.

The company didn't detail the specifics about how the software differs from the NTP patents. But it said the changes modify the necessary underlying elements of the BlackBerry message delivery system just enough to be fundamentally different from the NTP patent claims. The company said it has consulted lawyers to ensure that the work-around doesn't infringe on NTP patent claims remaining in the litigation. RIM has already filed new patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cover its work-around designs.

The new multimode software will be preloaded on all new BlackBerry handsets going forward, and the company will also make it available for current customers to download from a Web site at a later date.

CNET News.com's Tom Krazit contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
NTP, Research In Motion Ltd., injunction, network operations center, RIM BlackBerry

16 comments

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Apple should buy RIM
#1 - Apple can get the company on the cheap right now
#2 - Apple has cash to spend on ventures such as this
#3 - There would be immediate "in-roads" to the enterprise install
base (most still use Blackberry)
#4 - Future integration with (wireless??) iPod's and other mobile
devices would be embaced
Posted by otisdover (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Software uploads still a fantasy for Mac users
Better yet, RIM would develope a Mac client for their desktop
software. As it stands Mac users have no way to install an update or
3rd party applications to their Blackberry devices. Mac users are
forced to use a Windows PC in order to do this. Sounds like a
possible descrimination lawsuit to me, especially if the pending
patent lawsuit forces RIM to issue a workaround that must be
installed in all BBs.
Posted by muckeymuck (5 comments )
Link Flag
Apple, please buy (or partner with) RIM!
I am not saying an outright purchase (of this Canadian
company); Apple's market cap is (today) at $57b (was recently at
$70b+) - RIM used to be trading at $100+ and now has a
market cap that is down to $14b.

I am saying that IF you combine Apple's hand-held R&D budget
with RIM's network (depending on its final form) along with the
enterprise exposure already enjoyed by RIM, it would help
Apple's presence in the all-important corporate market.

As for the consideration (by Apple) of Palm: it would not buy
Apple the enterprise exposure needed. I am not saying that Palm
would not be a great addition to the Apple product line, but
Apple needs a network to run on, not just an interesting piece of
hardware/software (a.k.a. "Newton") to set it apart. Add this
need for a network to the potential future of wireless iPod's and
the such, and... (fill in the blank)
Posted by otisdover (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The math...
Wow...with logic like that why doesn't Mr. Softy just buy Apple with CASH (and they'll STILL have some left over) and make them go away! Then Mr. Softy would have almost all the market...I wonder why CEOs don't think of these things....
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Link Flag
Arm Chair CEO Listen Up
Apples and oranges are not the same. So why not have apples for apples?

Apple do not buy RIM.

Apple buy Google!
Apple buy Steve Jobs a new Gulf Stream.
Apple buy needs another Steve Jobs.
Apple buy AOL!
Apple include bluetooth in IPODS.
Apple this apple that apple apple apple.

Apple manufacture your own product line of PDAs with IPOD with touch screen and voice xml functions. Drop all this keyboard thumb aching stuff. Youre known for innovation of new products not copycats or buying your way into the market. Is entering the mobile messaging arena your core competency? NO.

I like my Ipod without cellular service and PDA functions. If you want, add Bluetooth and that would make it that much better. If wanted a PDA with MP3, I would have bought a Treo. Better yet if I wanted a PDA at all with a leash to my work. I would be taking my blackberry home with me daily. But I do not want to be connected to work 24/7.

Rim, ok youre the king of mobile messaging but Nokia, Microsoft, Good, and many others are on your tail. Does it make sense to scare us by not settling?

How proven is your workaround? Has it been tested? Where are the customers who have tested?

And finally to the entire arm chair CEOs. Quit it already!

ACC
Posted by Nael (112 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Buy/partner/invest...
...call it what you want - I am simply stating that (in my opinion)
it would be a good marriage. The primary purpose is to further
the inroads into enterprise willingness to spell the word A-P-P-
L-E.

It would be interesting to potentially integrate the iPod direction
(wireless?) with PDA/e-mail through an existing, ACCEPTED
network without re-creating another wheel - no "iPod" pun
intended.

As for the arm-chair CEO comment: I wonder how long Steve
Jobs played "arm-chair" before taking the real plunge?
Posted by otisdover (4 comments )
Link Flag
Blackberry Connect?
Will the workaround work for Blackberry Connect devices? Or is this a past chapter for RIM?

//Niels
Posted by drsymbion (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do the work around
I would love to see them implement the work around and laugh as NTP loses future revenue. Honestly, is NTP even a company? What do they do? Where are they on the web? Where's their products?

Right now they seem like just some greedy guys who scored big on a vague patent and keep holding out for more money. Would love to see them lose it all because of their excessive greediness.
Posted by SeizeCTRL (1333 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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