BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has been hit with a $147.2m bill by a US court in California after it was found guilty of infringing on wireless mobile device patents owned by a firm called Mformation Technologies.
The decision is a huge blow for RIM as it adds to its ongoing woes. The firm recently announced losses of $518m and the delay of its BlackBerry 10 operating system until 2013.
The case was brought against RIM over the use of technology within its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) system used by governments and large corporations.
The judge's decision forces RIM to pay royalties to Mformation for the US users of the service, backdated to 2008.
The inventor of the patent on which Mformation won the case, the firm's founder and chief technology officer, Rakesh Kushwaha, said the decision underlined the importance of the technology the firm had invented.
"Mformation created the mobile device management category in the late 1990s and was innovating in this area well before most of the market understood the fundamental importance of wireless mobility management," he said.
"Our patents are a core part of our innovative products, and are fundamental to the methods used for device management in the market today."
The lead attorney for Mformation, Amar Thakur of law firm Foley & Lardner, said the decision was a victory for smaller firms in the technology industry.
"Our legal system allows small businesses to protect their patented inventions against unauthorised use by large corporations. Today the legal system worked and inventors everywhere should feel encouraged by the court's conclusion," he said.
RIM said it was "disappointed by the outcome" and was considering its stance on the case but was awaiting further decisions from the judge before making a decision.
"RIM has worked hard for many years to independently develop its leading-edge BlackBerry technology and industry-leading intellectual property portfolio, and RIM does not believe that the Mformation patent in question is valid," it added.
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