The legal case between Research In Motion (RIM), makers of BlackBerry, and NTP had its much-awaited court hearing on February 24, 2006. There had been much speculation that the court would enforce an injunction to shutdown BlackBerry’s sales and services in the US. However, the court delayed that decision to await the full outcome of a re-examination of the NTP patents at the heart of the case.
RIM must act quickly to settle the case once and for all to avoid losing customers to competitors.
The US Patents and Trademarks Office’s (USPTO) has already given a final rejection on one, and non-final rejections on four other of NTP’s patents. With these rejections, the outcome of the case must be tipping in favor of RIM, and against the likelihood of the shutdown.
On February 13, 2006, Vodafone and Microsoft announced the launch of a new push corporate email service to rival BlackBerry. The service will allow mobile phone users to receive emails from their corporate Microsoft Outlook software and edit Excel and Word attachments.
Private mobile email users are also going to be targeted, according to a recent announcement from Bouygues Telecom. Bouygues, a leading mobile operator in France, intends to deliver a specifically designed version of MSN Hotmail for mobile phones. This is to allow MSN Hotmail mobile services to provide customers additional communication options to enable people to talk with friends and family through an array of mobile internet services, helping to bridge the PC and mobile worlds.
This has turned out to be a good day for RIM, with so many competitors waiting to jump at any opportunity to win over RIM’s customers. These number an estimated three million in the US alone. The number of US government workers with BlackBerrys is estimated to be one million.
The delayed decision means that RIM and its customers have time to think about their future options and RIM must act quickly now to settle the case once and for all, if it is not to lose customers to its competitors.