Can the Workaround Be

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2006-02-09 Print this article Print

Trusted?"> "Ive read all the materials and my conclusions are [that the workaround is] seamless to the user after the initial software upgrade on the device, and that there is low impact on the IT infrastructure and staff; queuing at the BES should not require significant storage or CPU resources," said John Halamka, CIO of Harvard Medical School and Caregroup Healthcare System, a Boston-area hospital group that supports some 800 BlackBerry devices.

"Im unsure if NTP or the judge in the case will find this workaround acceptable," Halamka added.
RIMs own court filings indicate that implementing a workaround wont be easy.
"Implementing a workaround requires reloading software on servers and BlackBerry handheld devices," reads a January 17 court briefing from RIMs legal team. "This which would likely involve some significant effort on behalf of users and their supporting organizations, which will need to take time to implement the upgrades, and will likely experience typical problems experienced with undertaking upgrades." RIM cites difficulty in excluding some from shutdown. Click here to read more. RIM goes on to note that customers might defect to other services rather than install any workaround, which may still be challenged by NTP. Most of the carriers who sell BlackBerry service also sell competing services from companies such as Good Technology, Intellisync, Visto and Seven Systems. But defecting is not cheap, especially for customers with large deployments. Industry consultant Jack Gold estimates a cost of $845,000 for a 1000-user organization, or $845 per user to migrate to another wireless e-mail system. Still, he does not yet feel comfortable telling RIM customers to trust the workaround. "If you look at just a software upgrade piece, if it goes smoothly, then thats obviously a best-case scenario," said Gold, principal of J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass. "If something goes wrong and it messes up the connection with the end users or doesnt like to talk to the NOC correctly, then youre talking about the potential of downtime, which could cost the company tens of thousands of dollars. Theres no way to know until this thing has been tried and tested." RIM will announce the process for downloading any necessary upgrades "at a later time," a company statement said. The workaround software, should it be necessary, will be available free of charge. Holding company NTP sued RIM for alleged patent infringement on nine wireless e-mail patents in 2001. U.S. District Judge James Spencer ruled in favor of NTP in 2003, instructing RIM to halt its sales of BlackBerry devices and services in the United States until NTPs patents run out in 2012. Click here to read about how concerned RIM users are making contingency plans. Spencer stayed the ruling, however, pending appeal. Since then, the case has gone through several appeals and failed settlement attempts, although a settlement is still possible. In the meantime, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been re-evaluating several of the disputed patents for months. The USPTO has indicated that it intends to reject all of NTPs claims eventually, which would make the case null and void. Industry experts said the process could take several months, though, as NTP has voiced plans to appeal every decision it can. To that end, Spencer has set another hearing date for Feb. 24, after which he could choose to issue an injunction shutting down the BlackBerry service as it stands. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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