Judge overturns massive patent penalty against RIM

A Californian judge has overturned a widely-criticized ruling that RIM infringed an Mformation patent.

Last month, a court ordered RIM to pay a whacking $147.2 million for infringing a patent covering remote device management. The figure was based on a royalty of $8 per infringement per unit – representing a threat to smartphone pricing worlwide, said some.

Now, though, cash-strapped RIM can breathe a sigh of relief. The ruling has been overturned, and it won’t have to pay a penny.

“We appreciate the Judge’s careful consideration of this case. RIM did not infringe on Mformation’s patent and we are pleased with this victory,” says Steve Zipperstein, RIM’s chief legal officer.

“The purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation, but the system is still too often exploited in pursuit of other goals. Many policy makers have already recognized the need to address this problem and we call on others to join them as this case clearly highlights the significant need for continuing policy reform to help reduce the amount of resources wasted on unwarranted patent litigation.”

Mformation can still appeal – but if successful will win only the right to a new trial, rather than the reinstatement of the award.

The move could be a life-saver for RIM, struggling to keep any sort of market share in the runup to the launch of the delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system next year.

There are rumors that the company may be taken over or, less dramatically, may end up licensing its operating system to a vendor such as Samsung.