NTP’s patent suit against Research in Motion is pointless because NTP does not have a product

At press time, a U.S. District Court in Virginia was scheduled to hear a request from NTP Inc. to issue a new injunction that would effectively make the BlackBerry unavailable in the U.S. NTP claims RIM has violated 16 of its patents. If you don’t know much about NTP’s wireless e-mail products and how similar they are to RIM, you’re not alone. In fact, NTP doesn’t even have a wireless e-mail product. To find out more about NTP, check out their Web site. Wait a minute. They don’t have a Web site – which is not surprising, since there’s no point in setting up a Web site if you don’t have products for sale.So how is it that NTP can ask a court to shut down RIM’s service when they don’t offer a similar product? Because patent laws don’t just protect companies from unfair competition – they can also prevent developers from turning innovative ideas into products. There’s nothing wrong with patent laws that stop one company from competing with another company by stealing their idea. If McDonald’s stole Colonel Sanders’ formula for fried chicken, KFC would be well within its right to sue.
But NTP is no KFC. It doesn’t compete with RIM because it has no product. All they’ve contributed to telecommunications technology is the purchase of patents from an inventor.
Again, this is not an endorsement of RIM. But at least RIM has turned its idea into a product. Its co-CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, have contributed something to technology. In fact, Lazaridis has donated more than $150 million of his own money towards research. Regardless of how annoying BlackBerry users are, you can’t argue RIM’s products aren’t innovative and popular. And what has NTP contributed to technology? Nothing. But at press time, their legal action could turn black the clock on innovation.

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