Over the past few years, thereâ€™s been a lot of talk about how broken down the patent system is, examples like Amazon patenting a â€œ1-clickâ€ checkout or ActiveBuddy who successfully patented instant messaging in 2002. Both of these patents had something called â€œprior artâ€ which means they should have not been granted because the technology has already been readily available. Anyone that used ICQ during its popularity would tell you that, but somehow it went unnoticed at the patent office.
Now the difference with all these busted technology patents was that it really didnâ€™t affect the common people. It was mainly nerds and geeks who made some noise about these illegitimate patents. Thatâ€™s where RIMâ€™s case with NTP is different, not only does it affect the nerds and geeks, but the everyday 3 million American Blackberry users. Business people, lawyers, doctors, politicians are now paying close attention to what the USPTO does.
Now weâ€™re not against the idea of a patent, an inventor should get rewarded for their hard work. However the NTP case is different and you can say that for many other technology patents. Many of these technology patents are the equivalent of a â€œland grabâ€, just file something very crude and broad and hopefully it gets approved by the USPTO. Thatâ€™s the case with NTP, a company that was founded to exploit the patent system. This Virginia-based company has no employees other than co-founder Donald Stout who happens to be a patent-infringement lawyer or any real products. It has never tried to build a real business or product out of its patents, hell they donâ€™t even have a website. In the patent world, these companies are called â€œpatent trollsâ€ and they are becoming more prominent, 3,000 multi-million lawsuits were filed, double the amount that was filed 15 years ago.
You may say to yourself, what a bunch of crooks but what they are doing is completely legal. These companies depend on the broken down patent system, a department that is under funded and under staffed. When the USPTO actually puts some time and resources in to investigating a patent they become sensible. And now we come full circle with the RIM/NTP case, under enormous media pressure and most likely political, the USPTO had made the NTP patents priority, re-examining them and invalidating 3 out of 5, and most likely the other 2 very soon. However it may be all for nothing, Judge Spencer has went on record that he wants to get the case over with as soon as possible and itâ€™s not sure if heâ€™s going to allow new evidence.
Unfortunately the worst case scenario of a Blackberry blackout would probably be the tipping point for patent system reform but RIM will never allow that. So ironically, RIM would probably have to settle with NTP on the patents they infringed on which were later decided invalid patents.