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Gartner warns of Blackberry patent work round

Tash Shifrin

A workaround devised by Research in Motion to keep its Blackberry devices running if a US court injunction relating to disputed patents is implemented should be seen “primarily as a negotiating tactic”, analyst firm Gartner has warned.

RIM is embroiled in a long-running legal battle with patent holder NTP. The US courts have upheld a ruling that the Blackberry product infringes NTP patents.

RIM now faces the possibility of an injunction from NTP that could shut down the US Blackberry network, and earlier this month issued a workaround designed to keep services running if the courts grant an injunction.

But in its analysis of the workaround, Gartner says: “The complexities involved in the NTP-RIM patent infringement issue lead us to believe that RIM's announcement of a work-around will serve primarily as a negotiating tactic.”

It warns: “RIM’s work-around documentation does not address traffic emanating from the US for a foreign device — a scenario that Gartner believes may be subject to NTP patent claims. RIM also has made no comment on performance impact.”

Impact is “likely due to the heavier protocol requirements” needed to make the fix work, it adds. Users also face costs in upgrading their devices with the fix – a company with 500 Blackberry users would need “at least a month-long effort” to get the work done.

Gartner believes it is “almost certain” that NTP will challenge the workaround and that settlement of the case “remains the most likely outcome”.


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