updated 01:20 pm EST, Mon February 18, 2008
RIM vs Moto Patent Lawsuit
Research in Motion today filed a lawsuit against rival cellphone designer Motorola, claiming both infringement on patents relating to its handset technology as well abusive licensing practices for its own licenses. Responsible for creating the BlackBerry smartphone line, RIM filed the complaint this weekend in a Northern District of Texas court and argues that Motorola is attempting to exclude competition both by refusing to license certains patents in its phones and by charging "extortionate" licensing fees for those patents it owns, penalizing RIM for using similar technology.
The patents address some of the most important technology at the heart of both firms' devices, including the ability to connect through Wi-Fi as well as keyboards optimized for thumb typing.
Motorola has so far dismissed the complaint, calling its own patents "critical" to business and saying that it will protect its intellectual property against challenges from competitors.
The lawsuit reflects an increasingly heated amount of competition between smartphone makers, many of whom are enjoying a rapid increase in sales as a combination of more widespread 3G Internet access and enhanced media capabilities encourage home users to trade up to more expensive devices. RIM has recently moved aggressively into home user phones with the BlackBerry Curve and Pearl, which directly compete with smartphone-like offerings from Motorola such as the MOTO Q9.
Motorola is currently the lone exception, and saw its overall phone sales drop 38 percent at the end of 2007 while other companies gained momentum. Current chief Greg Brown has said he hopes to focus on more specific devices to turn around the company's results.