John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

RIM Besieged by Troll

With Research In Motion’s fortunes deteriorating at a rate that has rolled the company’s share price back nearly a decade, the last thing the company needs is another lawsuit distracting it from the very important task of rushing BlackBerry 10, its next-generation operating system, to market. Yet, sadly for RIM, that’s what has happened.

The company this week finds itself on the receiving end of another patent-infringement suit, this one filed by Mobile Telecommunications Technologies (MTEL). A Lewisville, Texas, LLC, MTEL owns a portfolio of early wireless paging patents that once belonged to SkyTel Communications. It claims that RIM’s BlackBerry OS infringes on five of them. Among the patents MTEL is asserting against RIM, “Nationwide communication system: A two-way communication system for communication between a system network and a mobile unit,” and a “Mobile paging telephone call back system and method.”

Broad stuff. Dusty, too. Most of these patents were registered between 1996 and 1999. So why is MTEL suing now? It’s a patent troll, and this is what patent trolls do (MTEL is also suing Clearwire for infringement).

MTEL’s complaint seeks an injunction against RIM’s continued use of the technologies at issue here, and, of course, unspecified damages. But what it’s really looking for is go-away money. It’s not going to get it without a fight, though. A spokesperson for RIM said the company will vigorously defend itself against MTEL’s suit. As well it should. But as I said earlier, with the floor of its business dropping further by the day, RIM’s got far more important things to do than fend off patent trolls.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work