U.S. judge backs RIM in patent dispute with Mformation
By Euan Rocha
TORONTO (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has overturned a $147.2 million jury award against Research in Motion Ltd, ruling that the BlackBerry maker has not infringed a Mformation Technologies Inc patent covering a remote management system for wireless devices.
Wednesday's ruling, outlined in court documents, gives RIM a much needed reprieve as it battles to conserve cash and turn around its fast-fading fortunes. More nimble competitors have outgunned RIM in recent months, luring away many long-time BlackBerry users.
Crucially for RIM, U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware also granted RIM's motion seeking a new trial if a higher court overturns his ruling. This means that the jury award cannot be reinstated should Mformation successfully appeal the new ruling.
RIM, whose share price has fallen over 70 percent this year as its devices have ceded ground to a new crop of smartphones like Apple Inc's iPhone and a range of devices that run on Google Inc's Android software, cheered the ruling.
"We appreciate the judge's careful consideration of this case. RIM did not infringe on Mformation's patent and we are pleased with this victory," said RIM's Chief Legal Officer Steve Zipperstein in a statement on Thursday.
Mformation, which helps companies manage their smartphone inventory, said it is assessing its legal options and will determine its next steps shortly.
"Mformation is deeply disappointed that the court would overturn a jury verdict after a month of trial including a week of thoughtful deliberation by the jury," Chief Executive Todd DeLaughter said in an email.
RIM shares rose more than 5 percent early on Thursday to $8.03 on the Nasdaq, but pared gains later in the day and were up 1.1 percent at $7.70 at 1500 ET. Its Toronto-listed shares were up 1.6 percent at C$7.68. Continued...