Users of the popular BlackBerry wireless device will not lose their service if maker Research In Motion Ltd. is hit with an injunction in a U.S. court case, a top RIM executive said Wednesday.
RIM Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said the company recently completed a software upgrade that it may deploy in a bid to work around the patents involved in its legal dispute with NTP Inc.
"We're endeavoring to plan for every scenario," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the UBS Global Communications conference in New York. "Our customers can be calm that there won't be an interruption of service."
NTP successfully sued RIM in 2002 over infringement of its patents and won an injunction in 2003 to halt U.S. sales of RIM's popular BlackBerry wireless e-mail handset and shut down RIM's service in the United States.
That injunction was stayed pending appeal. An appeals court in August scaled back the ruling against RIM, but upheld some patent infringement claims.
The case has now moved back to the court where it was first heard. NTP has said it wants the injunction reimposed. RIM wants the court to enforce a disputed $450 million settlement reached in March that fell apart in June.
Balsillie said RIM has not implemented the "workaround" sooner because it has just been completed. He said the company has been extra conservative in ensuring that it does not infringe on any of NTP's patents.
"We've done it in a way that we don't think there's a compromised experience, period," he told investors in New York. "It's a software upgrade that we're very, very comfortable with and we've done focus groups with and we're just finishing testing."
Balsillie declined to comment on whether the proposed "workaround" and recent U.S. Patent Office rulings have made RIM less likely to settle with NTP.
After conducting a re-examination, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this year issued initial rulings rejecting eight NTP patents
Balsillie said the patent office put out a schedule that said the matter could be wrapped up in January. But NTP has said in the past the process could take years because it can appeal the re-examination in court.
RIM shares closed down more than 4 percent, or $2.82, at $64.68 on Nasdaq Wednesday on volume of more than 6.3 million. In Toronto, the stock fell C$3.29 to C$77.03.
The stock dropped after mobile giant Nokia said it will buy wireless messaging and e-mail management firm Intellisync for about $430 million to boost its position in the corporate mobile e-mail market.
Balsillie told Reuters that RIM is not interested in topping Nokia's bid because Intellisync would not complement its existing business. He noted Nokia had recently reaffirmed it will continue to offer RIM's e-mail service over its devices through RIM's BlackBerry Connect program.
Merrill Lynch analyst Vivek Arya said that for now the acquisition should be a "non-event" for RIM. "While this move strengthens Nokia's position in the enterprise and potentially reduces its dependence on third party platforms such as RIM's BlackBerry Connect, we do not expect any financial implications on RIM in the near term," Arya wrote in a note to clients.