Bridge to the 20th Century

by on January 24, 2006 · 4 comments

Occasional co-blogger Solveig Singleton has done good work on patent reform, but I think her latest analysis of the RIM-NTP patent dispute rather misses the mark:

The patent office is likely to declare all of NTP’s patents invalid in its final ruling. While NTP could appeal, this would take quite a while, plenty of time for RIM to finish working out a technical bypass. NTP’s position is getting weaker and weaker.

She’s right that NTP is getting weaker, but the reason is that no matter what the letter of the law says, no judge insane enough to order the shutdown of all BlackBerries. And she’s wrong to imagine that RIM can or will work out a “technical bypass.” The “invention” that NTP has patented is the concept of checking your email wirelessly. (there are a few qualifications to the scope of the patent, but none of them are of much use to RIM) As long as BlackBerries do what they’re designed to do–fetch peoples’ email from a mobile device–they’re infringing NTP’s patent.

I’ve been a disappointed with media coverage of this issue: I think the fact that NTP has patented the idea of wireless email is crucial to a proper understanding of the case. But reporters credulously repeat RIM’s claims tha they have a software workaround to “bridge the patent,” when in fact, a BlackBerry that doesn’t infringe NTP’s patent (i.e. that doesn’t fetch email wirelessly) is called a paper weight.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: