Visto has signed a deal with NTP to license the wireless push e-mail technology that is the subject of legal action between NTP and Blackberry maker Research in Motion.
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NTP claims RIM has infringed its patents, and RIM is trying to find a settlement to the case, otherwise it faces the prospect of a court forcing it to close down its US push e-mail network.
Although RIM says it has evidence that NTP’s patents, registered with the US patent office, are invalid, Visto has joined a line of companies licensing them from NTP, including Nokia and Good Technology. All three companies compete against RIM in the push e-mail market.
RIM’s previous proposed £265m settlement with NTP fell through after a US district judge said it was not enforceable. That court is now threatening to issue an injunction that would effectively close down RIM’s US network.
The court is not willing to wait for the results of a patent office investigation into the patents, which could take years.
Such a closure would affect US and international companies and individual international users wanting to roam on a US network to get their e-mail.
According to reports, NTP, in its latest settlement proposal, has asked RIM for a cash sum and 5.7% of its US sales to settle the dispute.
But with RIM’s sales increasing rapidly – last financial year it generated £1.35bn - it may not be keen to sign an annual pay-off deal. Its last proposed settlement involved a one-off payment.
Analyst Gartner has already recommended that companies should hold off from adopting the Blackberry system for mission critical applications, until a settlement is found.