Motorola and RIM to tango in court

19 Feb 2008

Motorola and RIM are set for a legal battle as the companies have filed lawsuits against each other citing breach of contract and patent infringement.

Motorola is suing Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry, claiming the push email device violates seven of its US patents.

Motorola filed its complaint on 16 February in a Texan court claiming its patents were being infringed by RIM, asking for the action to be stopped and seeking compensation for past infringement.

The technology in question includes a method of storing contact information in wireless emails, a way of recognising incoming phone numbers, a way of controlling access to new applications on a wireless-messaging device and ways to improve functions on the menu-driven interface of a phone handset.

According to Motorola, RIM “wilfully” infringed the patents.

RIM hit back with a countersuit on the same day asking the court to find that Motorola has violated an agreement that it says required it to license those patents on reasonable terms and to determine that Motorola has infringed several of its own patents, including a patent for a mobile device “with a keyboard optimised for use with the thumbs.”

RIM’s complaint argues that Motorola boosted its royalty demands in response to the declining fortunes of its handset business and was driven by the fact that RIM has become a more substantial competitor in the wireless market.

“Having suffered losses in the marketplace, Motorola has now resorted to demanding exorbitant royalties from its competitor, RIM, for patents that Motorola claims are essential to various standards for mobile wireless telecommunications,” RIM said in the complaint.

Motorola said in a written statement: “Motorola’s strong R&D and intellectual property are critical to our business. Motorola believes in the value of its IP and will move aggressively to protect that value on behalf of our customers, partners and shareholders.”

By Niall Byrne