May 1, 2006
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) is headed for another court battle.
Visto Corp., a developer of products and systems for mobile e-mail systems for carriers, on Friday filed a lawsuit against RIM in federal court, claiming intellectual property infringement. Vistos lawyers filed the charges fresh off a win against competitor Seven Networks Inc., which a Texas jury found had willfully infringed on Vistos patents. The jury awarded Visto damages of approximately $3.6 million.
Now that Visto feels certain it has a strong case against RIM which earlier this year settled with NTP Inc. in a case that threatened the shutdown of BlackBerry service in the United States the company is going after RIM full-force. And unlike NTP, Visto is not seeking royalties.
We are seeking to stop all sales of BlackBerry in the United States, said Brian A. Bogosian, president, chairman and CEO of Visto Corp., in a Monday conference call with analysts and the media.
RIM released a statement on Monday, expressing the companys surety that Vistos patents are invalid. Further, the BlackBerry maker said in the release, Visto’s patent claims as directed against Seven Networks refer to a different type of system than RIM’s technology. RIM believes it does not infringe Visto’s patents and will file its legal response in due course. In addition to challenging validity and infringement, RIM will now also consider asserting its own patents against Visto.
Visto would not say exactly which of its patents it considers RIM to have infringed upon. Bogosian only said the patents cover synchronization, remote access and security, and go very deep theyre not algorithm-based [and] they relate to the system we operate.
The company also did not send a cease-and-desist notice to the BlackBerry maker.
Sending them a letter would have been irrelevant given past behavior, Bogosian said, explaining Visto heads have had extensive conversations about the companys technology with RIM leaders.
There are questions surrounding the timing of Vistos decision. During the five-year NTP case, Bogosian said Visto which has been around since the mid-1990s decided to see how things turned out.
Were a small company with limited resources, Bogosian said. The NPT trial had the risk that RIM would be shut down it didnt make sense to launch litigation at that time.
Besides, Bogosian added, the privately held Visto recently raised $70 million from investors and executives decided now was the right time, resource-wise, to sue RIM.
So far, Visto only is alleging patent infringement against RIM, Bogosian said. The company does have cases pending against Microsoft Corp. and Good Technology, but trial dates have not been set.
Visto says it has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, through global operators including Vodafone, Nextel, Sprint and Cingular Wireless LLC, and says it will protect the interests of its shareholders and customers.
When it comes to the RIM case, If we reach a resolution, well reach a resolution, Bogosian said. Were prepared for the long fight, and have the resources and the will to see it all through.
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