Research in Motion, makers of the BlackBerry, have been ordered by a judge in the San Francisco federal court to pay $8 for each mobile device connected to their enterprise server – a big red mark in their books for the amount of $147.2 million.
Back in 2002, Mformation, creators of a suite of mobile device management (MDM) software, filed for patent infringement claims against RIM citing they were using technology that allowed remote management “of a wireless device over a wireless network”. While this is something that almost all current smartphones allow, the method of getting messages to and from the device, is really what Mformation is concerned with.
This has been RIM’s bread and butter since the late 90s, when they were on top of the mobile e-mail market. They built an entire infrastructure around it. It’s one of their major selling points with BlackBerry devices. It’s what allowed them to reign supreme with enterprise customers for years. Until recently. Their stocks have plummeted and they have gone through laying off their talent in efforts to stay afloat. While $147.2 million wouldn’t have been an absolutely huge deal 5 years ago, RIM seems to be skating on thin ice these days and this isn’t going to make things any better. Consumers have all but lost confidence in RIM, and companies have been leaving in droves for iOS and Android device that can be locked down. Now they are being targeted for the very patents that made them their money. Talking about being kicked while you’re down.
I hope that RIM will fight this verdict and attempt to have it overturned. The patents in question are laid out in the primary case docket, and while they are extremely specific with how the mobile device is managed, RIM has been using this technology for over a decade and it’s their main staple. Government contracts, large and small corporations, and hundreds of thousands of users are tied to a BES, and have been for years. $147.2 million is no chump change to RIM right now. They need all the cash they can hold onto while starving their existing users who wait for BlackBerry 10.
Good luck RIM, tighten up those fists.