Balsillie gives his opinion on settlement


The deal means final settlement of all claims against RIM and a US court has dismissed all claims against the company. The settlement also is a one-off payment for a perpetual NTP license going forward.

“It’s very important that we got the scope we wanted,” said RIM co-CEO James Balsillie, on a conference call. “This scope relates to all NTP patents and it covers all of RIM’s products and services and technologies.”

The deal also means that if US Patent and Trademark Office eventually rules invalid the contested NTP patents, RIM will not be refunded its money. “There is no provision for the PTO re-examinations,” Balsillie said. “We have no contingency for that simply because this is a full and final settlement.”

Just last month, the PTO issued its final rejections of two of five NTP patents, having already issued preliminary rejections of all the patents, which relate to technology for sending emails wirelessly to a mobile device.

Balsillie has reiterated several times that the court handling the case had made it clear that it would not delay its proceedings to wait for the agency’s final decision.

“There’s no question it was surprising and disappointing that the court apparently wasn’t going to put much weight on the final action of the PTO,” he said.

While RIM previously said the PTO’s rejection of the patent would “withstand all future appeals by NTP,” Balsillie said that RIM settled with NTP in the best interests of its customers and partners.

“We fundamentally did this for the industry,” he said. “There’s no question we took one for the team here. At the core, [the settlement] is just over $3 a share and from that respect it sounds like a prudent thing for the company.”

News of the deal sent RIM shares up more than 18% to $82.50 in after-hours trading on the Nasdaq. Previously, some industry watchers had pegged a settlement amount of as much as $1bn.

While RIM’s chief repeatedly said that “not one single customer, not one single carrier decommissioned or strayed” from the company during the litigation, it was clear he was fundamentally soured by the process. After all, if the PTO rules, in one or two years’ time, that NTP’s patents are invalid, RIM has no recourse.

“No, it’s not a good feeling to write this kind of check, because it’s a lot money,” Balsillie said. “There’s no question you don’t feel good about it.”

While he said the US would undoubtedly overhaul its patent laws in the near future, RIM has been “caught in an ambiguous time” before such time.