Blackberry maker Research in Motion later today may face what could be considered a final decision in the prolonged patent battle with NTP.
Meanwhile NTP's patents are being invalidated by the US Patent and Trademark Office, but oddly enough, the judge couldn't care less about that. He'll have to go with a 2002 jury trial that found that RIM infringed on NTP's patents. It's like getting fined for speeding when going 65 on a 70 mph highway because the officer claims that the speed limit was 55.
If RIM wants to do society a favour, it takes this case as far as it possibly can, allowing the patents to be invalidated and turn NTP into an empty shell. But business economics will probably force RIM to settle the case to lower its legal bills and allow the company to focus on innovation rather than legislation.
We didn't exactly need additional proof that the patent system is broken and outdated, that patents are awarded without any due process and as a result allow big patent filing companies (read: IBM, Microsoft, HP etc.) to prevent competitors from entering their core markets.
Patents were once created to protect innovators against copy-cats. But they have turned into a way for incumbents to tax innovation.
The judge today hasn't made a ruling. But he did indicate that he will stick to the jury's findings that patents are being violoated. If RIM wants to sit this one out, they'll have to wait for the USPTO procedure to finish. That can take years.
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