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WSJ: Feds should just say no to crack-berries

Many of us who use BlackBerries are watching the patent case that Research In Motion has pending against it. The courts gave the company yet another blow today.

I mentioned earlier that I met with the RIM folks last week on their press tour -- yes, it is on my list to post about that meeting because the company is doing some interesting stuff. They even arranged for me to use a reviewer model of the new BlackBerry, which, in the 24-hours of experience I have had with it, is very nice.

A (maybe brief) review/aside/compaint session here: Whenever I talk about these devices, I have to mention that I was a user of Palm's Treo 350 and, speaking personnally, I hated it. In fact, I hated two of them! Somehow that horrible device managed to get decent reviews -- it boggles my mind! As I said, I actually had two Treos. The problem with the first one was that nobody could hear me -- that's a problem for something that claims to be a phone! So I dealt with the folks at Cingular and they finally sent me a second device. This one was even worse because it crashed all the time -- like 30-times a day! And it was all the time. I spent hours working with folks trying to get to the bottom of the problem to no avail. (And I cannot tell you how sick I was of so-called customer service!) So the Treo has turned me into a confirmed BlackBerry user.

The RIM folks told me last week that the company has a contingency plan should the injunction take effect, but they said they didn't even know what that plan was.

Anyway, here is more from Good Morning Silicon Valley on the court decision today:

Betty Ford Center braces for wave of CrackBerry withdrawal cases

Millions of CrackBerry addicts may soon find themselves disconnected and yearning for a fix, now that a federal judge has denied Research in Motion's request to halt the proceedings in its legal spat with patent firm NTP (see "Worse comes to worst, we'll spin it as a CrackBerry detox program" and "Research In Motion considers changing name to Research In Stasis"). In an order filed this morning, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer found RIM's contested $450 million settlement with NTP unenforceable and turned down the company's request to postpone proceedings until the Patent and Trademark Office can determine whether the patents at issue in the case are actually valid (see "What's 'You're screwed' in Norwegian?"). "This court cannot and will not grant RIM the extraordinary remedy of delaying these proceedings any further than they already have been, based on conjecture," the notoriously crotchety Spencer said (see "I knew we were in trouble when the judge kept checking his watch"). The ruling is a big victory for NTP, which has already announced plans to go for RIM's throat, seeking an injunction against BlackBerry products and services in the U.S., RIM's largest market. "The District Court's rulings permit the case to continue moving forward to address the remaining issues in this case including re-confirmation of an injunction that prohibits RIM from selling, using, or importing into the United States infringing BlackBerry hardware and software until the last of the litigated patents expires in 2012," NTP's lawyers said in a news release. "The injunction would not affect usage of BlackBerry products by federal, state, or local government ... or any first-responder entities such as law enforcement or fire departments."

All of this brings me to the WSJ editorial in today's paper about the Justice Department filed a brief saying that Blackberries are mission critical to government operations.

The WSJ balks in an editorial headlined, "BlackBerry Blackout":

We don't know who's right on the technical point, and this is not the place to delve into the mess that is the U.S. patent system. What caught our eye, however, was the government's claim that it is "imperative" that its use of BlackBerries not be interrupted. Most businesses that use BlackBerries -- including ours -- would certainly be put out by any service interruption, but would find ways to work around it. Surely the government, which has gone from zero BlackBerry use to several hundred thousand in just a few years, could do the same?

Update: There was an update late in the week. I normally don't back-update blog items, but given that I put this one in the Monday e-mail newsletter and there was a relevant event on Friday with the U.S. PTO decision, I thought I should note that.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Nov 30, 2005 at 12:15 PM


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