Judge vacates jury verdict, favors RIM in patent dispute with Mformation

The vacated jury verdict awarded Mformation $147.2 million in damages based on past sales in the U.S. of BlackBerry smartphones

A judge in California has vacated a July jury decision that Research In Motion pay $147.2 million in damages to Mformation Technologies to settle a patent dispute.

RIM was not in infringement of U.S. patent no. 6,970,917 ('917 patent) relating to remote management of wireless devices, District Chief Judge James Ware of the San Francisco division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled on Wednesday.

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The Judge was ruling on RIM's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law.

The jury awarded Mformation damages based on past sales in the U.S. of BlackBerry smartphones, connected to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) from late 2008 when the lawsuit was filed through the trial date.

Mformation, a mobile device management technology provider in Edison, New Jersey, accused RIM of infringement of the patent titled "system and method for remote control and management of wireless devices," which was filed for in 2001, and is assigned to Mformation.

RIM's accused products do not practice the '917 patent, as the evidence shows that the BES either transmits commands without having established a connection with the Blackberry handheld device, when communication is taking place over a cellular network, or transmits commands after receiving a request from the handheld device, when communication is taking place over Wi-Fi, the judge wrote in his order.

Claim 1 of the patent in the construction of the court describes a remote server establishing a connection and performing certain actions on the device without receiving a request from the device.

In the first case, the '917 patent is not infringed because a connection is not established, as is required by the court's construction of the patent. In the second case, the '917 Patent is not infringed because the connection is not established "without a request from the wireless device," as is also required by the court's construction of the patent, the Judge wrote.

Mformation can appeal the ruling, but if such an appeal were successful, the jury verdict would not be reinstated and instead a new trial would occur, RIM said in a statement.

The ruling is a small boost for RIM which is struggling against competition from Apple and Android phone makers such as Samsung. Its revenue in the quarter ended June 2 slid to $2.8 billion from $4.9 billion a year earlier. The company also reported a net loss of $518 million for the quarter, against a profit of $695 million a year earlier.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's email address is john_ribeiro@idg.com.

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