The maker of the BlackBerry today set forth details on its method for keeping the mobile device running if a court should rule against the company in an ongoing patent case.
Research in Motion, the company behind the wireless device, said it has developed special software that will enable the service to keep working even if RIM loses in a hearing that will take place in just two weeks. Individual users will be able to download the software to their BlackBerries from a designated Web site if need be, according to RIM.
On Feb. 24, U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer in Richmond, Va., will hear patent-holding company NTP’s request for an injunction to halt U.S. BlackBerry service. RIM said that though it doesn’t expect the injunction to be issued, it has developed the software in order to cover its bases.
Real estate agents are among the most dedicated users of BlackBerries, and have been concerned because the legal actions could shut down the approximately 4 million Blackberries used nationally. The wireless devices send and receive e-mail and have small keyboards that replicate that of a PC.
The request for an injunction grows out of a lawsuit against the company by Virginia-based NTP, which alleges that RIM’s BlackBerry service infringes upon its patents.
RIM said it has incorporated workaround designs into a software update called BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition that has been developed and tested as a contingency. In computer parlance, a “workaround” is a method, sometimes used temporarily, for achieving a task or goal when the usual or planned method isn’t working; high-tech mavens would call it a temporary fix or bypass of a problem in a system.
RIM isn’t making the software available yet, because the company is hoping it won’t be necessary, RIM said in a statement. Even if the judge rules against RIM, RIM opponent NTP has offered a 30-day “grace period” during which users can upgrade their devices with no interruption in service, RIM said.
RIM is optimistic about its chances of prevailing in the situation, saying that in addition to the court action, the Patent Office is continuing re-examinations and that the office rejected the NTP patents.
Nevertheless, some observers have opined that RIM may be motivated to settle to prevent its customers from switching to competitors should the Blackberries get cut off.
Sprint’s new mobile broadband phone, released in September, can access the multiple listing service, take and send photos, give directions and create documents on a keyboard – features that lend themselves nicely to agents’ needs. Treos are also popular with real estate professionals.
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