RIM CEO indicates settlement with NTP unlikely

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RIM CEO indicates settlement with NTP unlikely

Richmond (Virginia) – Following last Friday’s decision by US District Court Judge James Spencer not to impose any new injunction on BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion, while angrily urging both RIM and plaintiff NTP to settle their differences soon, RIM chairman and co-CEO Jim Balsillie issued a statement that closed with the phrase, “We’re looking forward to the eventual decision, and we’re feeling comfortable with our contingency plans in any event.” Balsillie’s statement indicates he’s willing to accept Judge Spencer’s final decision, even though he indicated it wouldn’t be a desirable one for either party.

“I’m…very pleased that NTP’s charade was finally exposed to the court,” Balsillie told reporters. “NTP has been very disingenuous with the court and the public. They have not offered RIM an agreement with reasonable terms and our court filings demonstrate that fact clearly. RIM filed an affidavit from a leading licensing expert that unambiguously explains that NTP’s settlement offer is disingenuous and illusory. NTP wants the world to believe they’re being reasonable in order to limit the public outrage, but the truth was exposed in court today.”

Balsillie continued by citing his company’s ongoing message that the US Patent and Trademark Office had now rejected all five of the patents at issue, although the statement should come with an asterisk: The USPTO has only finally rejected two of the five, while making an initial rejection for the remaining three. “These rulings vindicate RIM’s position,” he stated, “and prove that the patents should have never been issued in the first place.”

If Balsillie appeared to shut the door on future talks with NTP, he left it to one of his company’s attorneys, Henry Bunso, to open it again just a crack. “I’m pleased with the case we presented,” said Bunso, “and I think it’s clear that an injunction is inappropriate and impractical in this case. The public interest would be harmed. The government’s rights would be encroached. And NTP can clearly be compensated monetarily.”

The latter statement is the most important one, especially for its phrasing: Bunso clearly did not call such a compensation a “settlement,” nor did he come close to characterizing it as a licensing fee – which is the outcome NTP is probably seeking. Rather, he seems to be giving NTP the option to accept a one-time fee just to drop the matter and go away peacefully.

A check of the USPTO database this morning did not indicate that the Patent Office had issued any further rejections of NTP’s remaining three patents, though at the rate the USPTO is proceeding, such final rejections could conceivably still come this week.