Research in Motion: a Study in International Intellectual Property

Research In Motion: A Study in International Intellectual Property by Paul A. Langfield, M. S. An Introduction to Research In Motion (RIM) Canadian-based company Research In Motion (RIM) is an excellent case study in the challenges associated with Intellectual Property rights, especially in light of the company’s need to operate within the Intellectual Property frameworks of countries across the globe. Started by then twenty-three year old, Mike Lazardis in 1984, RIM has been involved on both sides of patent infringement law suits since the year 2000.

RIM began in earnest as a venture capital endeavor with an initial venture of $5 million in 1995 and a total pre-IPO venture of $30 million by 1998. Since the start of the millennium, RIM has been engaged in patent-related legal struggles with Glenayre Electronics, Good Technology, Handspring, NTP, inc. , Visto, Xerox and Motorola (Research In Motion Limited (RIM), 2010). Despite the legal troubles, by 2007 RIM became the most valuable company in Canada (Loblaw, 2007).

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In 2008 RIM was named one of “Canada’s Top 100 Employers (Research In Motion Limited (RIM), 2010), and Fortune Magazine identified RIM as the fastest growing company in the world in August of 2009 (Benner & Cendrowski, 2009). RIM’s Intellectual Property Challenges RIM’s challenges with various other firms regarding patents began in 1999 and have been consistent up to the current time. RIM has met these challenges head-on utilizing the US legal system both by initiating lawsuits as well as filing counter claims.

Ultimately the law suits were either settled out of court, or resulted in licensing agreements for use of patented technology. The first suit initiated by RIM was in 2001 against a competitor called Glenayre Electronics regarding RIM’s “Single Mailbox Integration” patent. According to Wikipedia, the suit was “partly in response to an earlier infringement suit filed by Glenayre against RIM” and resulted in a settlement (Research In Motion Limited (RIM)). In 2001, the original Glenayre suit against RIM was dismissed (Research In Motion Ltd.

Company History, 2003) Two lawsuits were initiated in 2002, by RIM proactively suing the new start-up company Good Technology, and Handspring for patent infringement. Both of these suits resulted in licensing deals in exchange for termination of the lawsuits (Research In Motion Limited (RIM)). RIM has not always been on the initiating side of the Intellectual Property fights. In 2001, an American patent company out of Virginia called NTP Inc. filed a suit in Federal Court stating that RIM had built its wireless email network utilizing NTP-owned patents (Research In Motion Ltd. Company History).

After a 4-year battle with NTP and under threat of an imminent service disruption to 3. 5 million US Blackberry users, RIM agreed to pay $612. 5 million to NTP to settle all claims in dispute in 2006 (Lablaw). Not only has RIM faced patent battles in the US, but also in other countries such as Britain. In February 2010, a British court in London ruled that RIM did not infringe upon patents held by Motorola (“The Economic Times,” 2010). The ruling was clearly a case of “winning the battle but losing the war” since RIM had battles raging with Motorola on several fronts across the world.

Ultimately Motorola ended up making an up-front payment and agreed to pay ongoing royalties to Motorola last month in order to end “all outstanding worldwide litigation between the two companies” (Carew, S. & Ando, R, 2010). Industry Influences Throughout its litigious history, many industry factors influenced RIM’s issues with, and responses to, Intellectual Property law. These influences ranged from evolving keyboard designs to changes in wireless connectivity, Dominant Design challenges with ISPs such as AOL, introduction of the IPhone into the market and even evolving cellular technologies such as CDMA and PCS (Research In Motion Ltd.

Company History). In the final analysis, it is clear that RIM had to consistently fight for its Intellectual Property rights using traditional means on each of these fronts internationally in order to successfully compete and ultimately be in the market position the company holds currently. It is likely that had RIM taken a less aggressive stance at guarding its patents, they may very well not be in existence today. References Benner, K. , & Cendrowski, S. (2009, August 18). Fortune 500. Retrieved July 25, 2010, from CNNMoney. com Web site: http:/? /? money. cnn. com/? galleries/? 2009/? technology/? 908/? gallery. fastest_growing_techs. fortune/? index. html BlackBerry wins patent battle with Motorola in Britain. (2010, February 4). The Economic Times. Retrieved July 24, 2010, from The Economic Times Web site: http:/? /? economictimes. indiatimes. com/? news/? international-business/? BlackBerry-wins-patent-battle-with-Motorola-in-Britain/? articleshow/? 5533952. cms Carew, S. , & Ando, R. (2010, June 11). Motorola, RIM End Patent Battle. Katonda News Network. Retrieved July 24, 2010, from Katonda News Network Web site: http:/? /? www. katonda. com/? news/? 11/? 2010/? 1256 Loblaw, R. (2007, April).

A History of RIM… From Concept to Canada’s Most Valuable Company. Message July 24, 2010, posted to Crackberry. com: http:/? /? forumes. crackberry. com/? f2/? timeline-history-research-motion-7162/? Research In Motion Limited (RIM). (2010, July 19). Retrieved July 24, 2010, from Wikipedia: http:/? /? en. wikipedia. org/? wiki/? Research_In_Motion Research In Motion Ltd. Company History (2003). In International Directory of Company Histories (Vol. 54) Retrieved July 25, 2010, from Funding Universe Web site: http:/? /? www. fundinguniverse. com/? company-histories/? Research-in-motion-Ltd-Company-History. html

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