Research in Motion: a Study in International Intellectual Property

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Research In Motion: A Study in International Intellectual Property


Paul A. Langfield, M.S.

An Introduction to Research In Motion (RIM)

Canadian-based company Research In Motion (RIM) is an excellent case study in the challenges associated with Intellectual Property rights, especially in light of the company’s need to operate within the Intellectual Property frameworks of countries across the globe. Started by then twenty-three year old, Mike Lazardis in 1984, RIM has been involved on both sides of patent infringement law suits since the year 2000.
RIM began in earnest as a venture capital endeavor with an initial venture of $5 million in 1995 and a total pre-IPO venture of $30 million by 1998. Since the start of the
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Company History, 2003)
Two lawsuits were initiated in 2002, by RIM proactively suing the new start-up company Good Technology, and Handspring for patent infringement. Both of these suits resulted in licensing deals in exchange for termination of the lawsuits (Research In Motion Limited (RIM)).
RIM has not always been on the initiating side of the Intellectual Property fights. In 2001, an American patent company out of Virginia called NTP Inc. filed a suit in Federal Court stating that RIM had built its wireless email network utilizing NTP-owned patents (Research In Motion Ltd. Company History). After a 4-year battle with NTP and under threat of an imminent service disruption to 3.5 million US Blackberry users, RIM agreed to pay $612.5 million to NTP to settle all claims in dispute in 2006 (Lablaw).
Not only has RIM faced patent battles in the US, but also in other countries such as Britain. In February 2010, a British court in London ruled that RIM did not infringe upon patents held by Motorola ("The Economic Times," 2010). The ruling was clearly a case of “winning the battle but losing the war” since RIM had battles raging with Motorola on several fronts across the world. Ultimately Motorola ended up making an up-front payment and agreed to pay ongoing royalties to Motorola last month in order to end “all outstanding worldwide litigation between the two companies” (Carew, S. & Ando, R, 2010).

Industry Influences

Throughout its litigious

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