Gartner warns Blackberry users

Companies should not deploy new Blackberry push e-mail devices for mission-critical tasks, until Blackberry's manufacturer RIM settles a legal battle with NTP, analyst Gartner has recommended.

Companies should not deploy new Blackberry push e-mail devices for mission-critical tasks, until Blackberry's manufacturer RIM settles a legal battle with NTP, analyst Gartner has recommended.

In a long-running legal battle, NTP insists that RIM infringed its patents for automatically delivering e-mail to mobile devices. RIM has proposed a settlement to the case and is trying to prove that US patents granted to NTP are not correct.

A US court recently ruled that the settlement is not enforceable, and there is now a real threat that Blackberry devices may be turned off on US networks.

This has prompted Gartner to issue its new RIM deployments warning. Gartner said the latest court ruling suggests that unless RIM reaches a settlement with NTP, “the court will issue an injunction effectively ending RIM’s operations in the US”.
Gartner said it appears the court is unwilling to wait for a long drawn out examination of NTP’s patents by the US Patent Office, which could take years to complete.

Such a shutdown would mean that US Blackberry users would lose messaging services and international users would lose messaging services while travelling in the US. Gartner said international businesses with US operations would also be affected.

While Gartner believes RIM and NTP will reach a settlement within weeks, it said there was a chance one wouldn’t be possible and further legal action would be taken by RIM, further delaying a conclusion to the case.

RIM said it was developing a technology workaround as a contingency if it was prevented from using the technology NTP under dispute.

In a statement last week the company said, “As a contingency, RIM has also been preparing software workaround designs which it intends to implement if necessary to maintain the operation of Blackberry services in the US. Further details will be made available if such implementation becomes necessary.”

Gartner said existing customers should demand to know what these workarounds are, to make sure they work within their own systems.
The analyst also said NTP may go after other push e-mail suppliers with similar patent claims.

Therefore companies may want to consider adopting laptops equipped with wireless data cards for critical applications, to ensure business continuity.

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