RIM hit with $147.2 million patent verdict

Days after CEO Thorsten Heins promised that Research In Motion was not "in a death spiral," it lost a patent litigation case filed by Mformation, maker of remote wireless management software. The jury awarded Mformation $147.2m.

The verdict on Friday in a San Francisco federal court comes at a bad time for RIM, whose stock has fallen more than 70 percent in the past year as customers abandon the BlackBerry in favor of Apple's iPhone and a slew of devices using Google Inc's Android software. Amar Thakur, an attorney for Mformation, said the jury directed RIM to pay an $8 royalty for every BlackBerry device connected to RIM's enterprise server software, which brings the total award to $147.2 million. The verdict only covers U.S. sales through trial, Thakur said, and not future or foreign damages.

When people use the term "death spiral", it implies the existence of a useful aerodynamic characteristic influencing the descent. RIM's looks more like a death plunge.


  1. Oh please, it’s an IP case. This isn’t RIM’s fault, this is the dumbest of patent systems. Americans are creating their own tech recession with this garbage.

    1.  Indeed

      No matter how badly the company is doing otherwise, none deserve to be brought down by patent trolls abusing the ludicrous software IP laws in the US…

  2. I guess they technically aren’t lying.  They’re in the Death Spiral because of a complete lack of innovation and a tablet that was so bad that it was quite possibly the first time every hardware reviewer has agreed, not patent litigation.

    They had one good idea 10 years ago.

    1.  Sad, but true. Like Palm, they had an almost unbeatable toehold on the mobile devices market, but ceded it to Apple while they rested on their laurels. If they’d captured and kept hold of the smartphone market, they could have paid these guys out of petty cash.

  3. I think a better aeronautical term would be “controlled flight into terrain”. That doesn’t mean “safe landing”, it means  an accident where an airworthy plane, under control of a pilot, is unwittingly flown into the ground or an obstacle.

    1. The patent trolls are stocked to the gills with nothing but lawyers itching for a court battle (to both win a settlement and collect billable hours). And they don’t typically have websites to DDOS.

      Anonymous may be a collective with no organized goals or leaders, but it isn’t completely stupid.

  4. I’ve had both blackberrys and droids.  I use the ‘door’ test. If the phone survives an angry toss across the room into an oak door, it’s a winner. Droids implode if you drop them into a bowl of pudding. Blackberrys can kill an elephant with enough velocity. I for one, will be sad to see them go. 

    1.  Oh that’s funny because my BB just had a software implosion (crashing up booting up! and refusing to talk to the computer!) and the carcass didn’t survive the one way trip to the floor.

  5. When I hear the term “Death Spiral” I think of thousands of army ants that  have somehow gotten turned around to following their own column. With no cognitive process to recognize what’s happening, they continue to march in circles that get tighter and tighter as everyone dies. I like to imagine the last to go is the queen at the very center.

  6. Blackberry (Please, BB is Boing Boing) should have just taken a hit to their pride and started allowing installation of Android’s apk executables when they started losing ground to the pace of Android uptake over the last few years. They’re just simply java and could’ve been run *FOR SURE*. The security aspect of Blackberry is what made them popular but their lack of enticing and useful apps is what is killing them.

    The high-end Blackberry devices are actually quite competitively spec’d but without anything exciting to play with people are wanting more and so even those with Blackberry phones for business likely have an iphone or android device as their personal phone.

    1.  Another approach would have been to embrace their descent into a niche market, stop trying to chase targets outside that niche, and just really OWN their segment. Less glorious, but more still-in-business-making-money, and a bit more dignified.

      But either route would require admitting that they can’t actually do everything by themselves, which tastes bitter to some people.

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