Beleaguered BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) got some more bad news this weekend as a Northern California court ruled the company was guilty of patent infringement for the remote management system of its wireless devices. RIM was sued in 2008 by Mformation Technologies, a mobile device management software solutions specialist. The judge ordered RIM must pay an $8 royalty for each BlackBerry device connected to RIM’s Enterprise Server software, which amounts to $147.2 million, Reuters reported.
Amar Thakur, an attorney for Mformation, told Reuters the verdict only covers U.S. sales through trial and not future or foreign damages. The news service also reported RIM spokesperson Crystal Roberts saying RIM had legal proceedings in place to overturn the ruling. "Research In Motion has worked hard to develop its leading-edge BlackBerry technology," Roberts said in a statement.
RIM, which has seen its stock price fall 70 percent over the past year as the company struggles to retain market share against rivals like the Apple iPhone and Google Android-powered smartphones, is just the latest tech company hit in a string of high-profile patent suits this year. According to a recent report in China Daily, Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology, is suing Apple over Siri, asserting the company infringes on a voice technology patent owned by Zhizhen.
RIMs troubles go beyond legal issues and patent lawsuits, however. The company also recently announced it would be slashing as many as 6,000 jobs, nearly a third of the companys workforce. Two weeks after CEO Thorsten Heins announced another delay in the release of the BlackBerry 10 platform, and a $518 million quarterly operating loss, RIM executives faced a skeptical audience at the companys annual shareholders meeting July 10.
In speaking to investors, Heins again extolled the virtues of the BlackBerry 10 platformwith the first devices now scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2013and the strategy under way at RIM to streamline the companys operations, including cutting $1 billion in expenses by the end of the fiscal year and looking for other ways to leverage RIMs assets, such as joint ventures with other companies and licensing BlackBerry technology to third parties.
Meanwhile, the head of RIMs developer program, Alec Sauders, had to issue a public denial that developersfrustrated over the delays in BlackBerry 10– were losing interest in the BlackBerry platform. "I was pretty shocked by the findings," he said in an interview with InformationWeek. "I was shocked because the numbers in the report do not gel with what we’re seeing in the real world. The report contradicts much of what we are seeing and hearing in our developer community."