Visto’s been legally nagging at RIM for awhile now, but now the second of their four patent objections has been dismissed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on the grounds that one patent regarding secure network file transfer has been in use by Lotus Notes since the 90s. This is just a preliminary rejection mind you, meaning Visto now has the opportunity to revise their complaint in scope or logic before it officially goes to court next July. Now, what the patent office says may have no ultimate bearing on the case proper, considering RIM had that much going for them in the NTP case, and we all know how that one ended up.
We all have fond memories of NTP, don’t we? That’s right, those guys who sued RIM for patent infringement last year, and eventually settled? Shortly thereafter, they moved on to Palm. Well, now they’ve turned their sights onto major U.S. carriers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, armed with grievances of the wireless e-mail patent flavor. The lawsuits were filed in a Virginia District Court on September 7th., and will prove to be yet another long, drawn-out legal battle. Man, these guys have got some cajones, going after industry giants like that. NTP doesn’t do much beyond sit on patents, which is clearly proving to be a lucrative business.
Between the NTP scuffle and this new one with Minerva, RIM might be able to skip all the paperwork simply by filing their patents first, according to some new changes in U.S. legal system. If all goes according to plan, patent litigations could be resolved solely based on who filed the patent first, rather than who was the first to invent the technology in question. The movement’s getting mixed reviews from industry. Big companies like RIM are in a good spot, because each devices has so many associated patents, that should even one be objected to, the entire device is mired in legal trouble. Biotech companies, which rely conversely on single patents, could see their funding diminish since the patent’s worth would only be established by review after the application.