Waterloo (ON) – In the final act of one of the most gripping patent cases in history, BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion has agreed to pay patent holder NTP the sum of $612.5 million, to settle their dispute and to grant RIM perpetual rights to all NTP’s outstanding – and still valid – patents. As a result, the future of BlackBerry service in the United States has been secured.
In a statement released minutes ago by NTP, the company states the settlement gives RIM perpetual license to all NTP patents, past and future, eliminating the possibility that NTP could sue RIM for something else later down the road. Most importantly, perhaps, RIM’s customers and partners will also be protected by the deal, allaying at least one analyst’s fears put forth in our story last Friday that NTP could sue RIM’s partners if the terms of a settlement merely served as evidence that NTP’s rights were breached.
Minutes after statements were issued by both companies, Reuters reported that US District Judge James Spencer effectively endorsed the settlement, dismissing the case.
As the NTP statement reads, “The agreement permits RIM and its partners to sell its products, services and infrastructure completely free and clear of any claim by NTP, including any claims that NTP may have against wireless carriers, ISV partners or against third party products that use RIM’s BlackBerry Connect / BlackBerry Built-In technology.” So RIM can now continue to build on its services without fear of NTP suing on account of any derivative technologies that RIM may create or discover.
NTP’s founder, Donald E. Stout, is quoted as saying, “We are pleased to have reached an amicable settlement with RIM. We believe that the settlement is in the best interests of all parties, including the US Government and all other BlackBerry users in the United States…NTP is pleased that the issue has been resolved and looks forward to enhancing its businesses.” NTP’s business thus far has been as a holder and defender of patents.
For its part, RIM’s statement today says that the company will take a $450 million charge this quarter, which was the amount it had originally settled for, in an agreement which NTP successfully had thrown out of court. The remainder of the charge will be accounted for in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter. Trading of RIM stock was halted on the NASDAQ exchange prior to this afternoon’s announcement, but was trading slightly higher earlier in the day, perhaps in anticipation of settlement news.