Thursday, March 09, 2006

Business- Dirty Business and Legal Blackmail

Here's a link to a pretty good summary ont the RIM vs. NTP case:

I've been following this case with mixed emotions because:

a) On the one hand I believe that when an investor pays for the rights to an Intellectual Property, they should be allowed to defend and profit from that investment.
b) On the other hand I don't agree that a company which has its own patents and IP should be blackmailed through the US justice system. Specifically that the courts allow themselves to be used as a weapon of agression in a case that needs to be examined by cooler and more informed heads.

After extensive efforts to protect the business it developed from the IP exploiter NTP Research In Motion decided to pay the Dane Gelt demanded and about to be extracted through an imminent high handed and arbitrary court ruling that would effectively force the RIM business to cease operation in its largest market.

I see the problem here as primarily a fault of the justice system that grants far too broad powers to a court and an individual judge. I think it completely unreasonable that any business or individual should be threatened with what amounts to state sponsored financial destruction over an issue which clearly requires no more than a reasonable assessment of facts and an even handed resolution process.

So what could be done to avoid this kind of fiasco in the future?

I think that:
First - The US patent office needs to have the power to arbitrate disputes through a dedicated office that has access to information and the expertise to make intelligent decisions.
Second - For disputes that go beyond the patent legitimacy problem the US federal court and the DoJ need a dedicated branch for Protection of IP rights and a clear mandate to avoid massive disruptions to consumers and investors and the economy in general.

Finally I think that in this case the patent troll NTP is way out of line as is the courts position and that RIM should be allowed to go after NTP based on the Complete facts of the case.

My problem with NTP itself is that it seems to have no record of ever developing or commercializing any of the IP it holds. Besides the matter of exactly how NTP came to own the patents in question and the merit of the patents granted ( now reversed by the Patent ofc. ) the fact that they made no effort to activiely develop or otherwise make commercial use of them tells me clearly what the company NTP is all about. They obviously waited until they became aware of a successful commercial application of a similar IP and went after the true entrepeneurs who acting completely above board with the expectation that their own IP rights were legitimate and entitled them to protection.

So RIM with years of effort and investment into R&D as well as product development and marketing with manufacturing investment gets stiffed by the US justice system. This endagers the equity of millions of investors to the tune of billions of dollars of capital as well as the investment of millions of individual or large organization customers who invested in the products and services of RIM and rely on the service as an integral pert of their own commerce.
The scope of damge that would have been done by this single US court is appalling!

I don't see any righteous victory here for "Little Guy" who is simply protecting an investment.
I see an egregious miscariage of justice and abuse of the legal system that effective robs hard working and legitmate investors of over $600million.

This is not right!


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