RIM Completes “Workaround”


Users of the popular BlackBerry wireless device will not lose their service if maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) is hit with an injunction in a U.S. court case, a top RIM executive said on Wednesday. RIM Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said the company recently completed a software upgrade that it may deploy in a bid to work around the patents involved in its legal dispute with NTP Inc.

“We’re endeavoring to plan for every scenario,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the UBS Global Communications conference in New York. “Our customers can be calm that there won’t be an interruption of service.”

NTP successfully sued RIM in 2002 over infringement of its patents and won an injunction in 2003 to halt U.S. sales of RIM’s popular BlackBerry wireless e-mail handset and shut down RIM’s service in the United States. That injunction was stayed pending appeal. An appeals court in August scaled back the ruling against RIM, but upheld some patent infringement claims. The case has now moved back to the court where it was first heard. NTP has said it wants the injunction reimposed. RIM wants the court to enforce a disputed $450 million settlement reached in March that fell apart in June.

Balsillie said RIM has not implemented the “workaround” sooner because it has just been completed. He said the company has been extra conservative in ensuring that it does not infringe on any of NTP’s patents.

“We’ve done it in a way that we don’t think there’s a compromised experience, period,” he told investors in New York.

“It’s a software upgrade that we’re very, very comfortable with and we’ve done focus groups with and we’re just finishing testing.”