While research in Motion Ltd. won a stay of an injunction prohibiting the company from selling its BlackBerry e-mail products in the United States, customers remain concerned about the companys burgeoning legal fees.
The Federal District Court in Richmond, Va., last week ruled in favor of NTP Inc. in its patent infringement case against RIM, which covers five NTP patents and has been brewing since late 2001. The outcome: The judge ordered RIM to pay about $53.7 million for past damages and attorney fees.
Furthermore, the court issued an injunction that enjoins RIM from selling, using or importing its BlackBerry wireless e-mail devices and server software in the United States. To RIMs relief, the judge also issued a stay of the injunction that will last through RIMs appeal.
“We believe that the District Courts decision to stay the injunction is especially appropriate given the frequency of successful appeals … as well as the specific merits of RIMs appeal,” said Henry Bunsow, RIMs lead counsel and partner at Howrey Simon Arnold & White LLP, in a written statement.
RIM intends to draw out the appeals process by petitioning the court to stay the process pending a re-examination of the disputed patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to RIM officials, in Waterloo, Ontario. The patent office agreed to review the patents after the initial jury verdict last November.
The financial damages, however, are of concern to some customers, who are already feeling burned by rising service fees.
“The biggest current concern is the increasing costs that are only feeding these lawsuits,” said Christopher Bell, chief technology officer of The People2People Group, a media services company in Boston that uses BlackBerry devices and enterprise software. “Im not inclined to pay for their infringement.”
Rivals are taking note.
“We feel this could stall their momentum,” said Scott Stingley, director of alliances at Extended Systems Inc., in Boise, Idaho. “We are looking to capitalize on that with our new OneBridge Mobile Groupware product set.”