Research In Motion (RIM) has developed and tested software workaround designs for all BlackBerry handsets operating on converged voice/data networks in the United States.
Although there is no injunction order in place yet in the patent litigation between RIM and NTP, Inc., RIM has developed these software workaround designs as a contingency to allow the BlackBerry service to continue should the court implement an injunction in the current litigation.
According to the company, in the years leading up to its public launch in 1999, BlackBerry was invented wholly independently of NTP’s patents and comprises a wide spectrum of designs and inventions that are outside the scope of NTP’s patents. There are only 9 claims relating to 3 NTP patents remaining in dispute in this litigation and those claims are only directed to specific implementations of certain aspects of the BlackBerry products and services.
As a result, RIM has been able to modify its underlying BlackBerry message delivery system to “work around” the NTP patent claims.
RIM says it has received a confidential and privileged legal opinion confirming that these software workaround designs do not infringe any of the NTP patent claims remaining in the litigation.
A software update called BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition has been developed and tested as a contingency. RIM has also filed new patent applications with the Patent Office to cover its workaround designs. BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition is so named because the software is capable of operating in different modes that can be remotely activated by RIM through its Network Operations Center (NOC).
In the absence of an injunction, the software and the underlying message delivery system can continue to run in “Standard Mode” (identical to the manner in which the current BlackBerry software and system operate) and the workaround will remain dormant. In the event of an injunction, RIM is able to remotely activate “US Mode” via its NOC and the workaround designs would automatically engage for each handset containing the Multi-Mode Edition software update.
RIM confirmed the workaround designs remain invisible to users and maintain the existing platform benefits for system administrators, application developers and network operators, while modifying the necessary underlying elements of the BlackBerry message delivery system to be fundamentally different from the NTP patent claims.
RIM has commenced the network certification process required for all software updates and will soon begin to ship the new software on new handsets in addition to making the software update generally available at a special web site for corporate IT departments and others to download and implement. RIM, NTP and the US Department of Justice have all raised issues that would warrant a transition period following a potential injunction order. NTP has proposed a 30-day transition period, but RIM has argued that the transition period should be longer if the court were to grant and implement an injunction.