RIM co-CEO says keen to solve NTP patent dispute


Research In Motion is still keen to resolve a bitter patent dispute with NTP Inc. and avoid an injunction that would shut its U.S. BlackBerry service, RIM President and co-Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis said on Thursday.

“We’re interested in a fair and practical solution to this,” Lazaridis said after giving a speech in Toronto. “We’ve always wanted to get this behind us and I think we’ve planned well.”

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge James Spender stopped short of ordering a shutdown of millions of RIM’s BlackBerry e-mail devices, but also said there was no escaping that RIM had been found to be infringing NTP’s patents. Spencer said he would issue a decision on an injunction “as soon as reasonably possible” but did not say when. But he made it clear that he would rather see the two companies settle the case than be forced to issue a decision.

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, and NTP, a U.S. patent-holding firm, sparred publicly after the judge’s comment, but have since gone quiet.

Lazaridis would not comment on whether there were any talks under way to end the battle, which stretches back to late 2001 when NTP filed suit. They reached a tentative settlement of $450 million early last year, but the deal fell apart.

“There is a court-imposed order that we can’t comment on any negotiations,” said Lazaridis, known as an innovator at RIM who tends to shun the spotlight in favor of his co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

But he added: “We believe that the right thing will happen. We believe that we prepared for this as best we can and that it will work itself out.”

He repeated that RIM has software changes ready to make sure its U.S. service is not disrupted if Spencer decides on an injunction.

“We’ve prepared the workaround, and again it’s all part of our being prepared for any contingency,” said Lazaridis, who founded RIM about two decades ago when he was a student.