Nokia Taking Advantage Over RIM’s Legal Issues


Nokia is betting BlackBerry addicts are looking for a new fix. The world’s largest mobile-phone maker is courting customers of Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry for a combination phone and e-mail device, coming out next quarter. Nokia is exploiting concern that the service may be shut down in the U.S. amid a patent dispute.

“People are looking for some alternatives,” Mary McDowell, a Nokia senior vice president, said in an interview in New York. The patent lawsuit has “been a cloud over RIM.”

Nokia wants to create its own class of fans, similar to the users from Wall Street to Silicon Valley who nicknamed Research In Motion’s device the “CrackBerry” and crouch over the pagers on trains and airplanes. McDowell says the Espoo, Finland-based company’s E61 device will win over some of the 650 million people with business e-mail accounts worldwide by giving them access to messages on the go.

The opportunity may be better now than ever. Research In Motion, with about 4 million users, may be forced to shut down service in the U.S., its biggest market. U.S. District Judge James Spencer in Richmond, Virginia, on Nov. 30 rejected a $450 million settlement between Research In Motion and NTP Inc., which claims the BlackBerry unfairly uses its patents.

“Companies are going to be sensitive to all this going on, and there might be a door for Nokia to come in,” said Daniel Morgan, who helps manage $5.45 billion, including Nokia shares, at Synovus Investment Advisors in St. Petersburg, Florida. “It creates noise and it creates uncertainty.”

Nokia’s American depositary receipts rose 12 cents to $17.67 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading and have gained 13 percent this year. Research In Motion fell $1.03 to $61.95 on the Nasdaq Stock Market and has dropped 25 percent this year on concern about the lawsuit.

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