There's more than a slight panic among BlackBerry users that the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal earlier this week to hear BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion's, well, motion to prevent RIM patent-infringement accuser NTP's move to suspend BlackBerry sales and services in the U.S. will result in a shutdown.
Read my lips. Ain't gonna happen.
As you might be able to tell from my BBHub blog, I have been following this matter very closely. I am convinced that in terms of the public and private communications infrastructure, a BlackBerry shutdown would be too injurious.
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is already accelerating final review of five disputed NTP patents that are at the heart of this case. Thus far, the USPTO has shown a strong inclination to disallow these patents. Yet only when they make such a final ruling will Judge James Spencer - who has thus far expressed more sympathy for NTP's position - have to listen. Up 'til then, the patents are assumed valid and he has to rule that way.
So what we are seeing here is a battle against the clock. NTP hopes the Judge will rule before the USPTO gets around to disallowing. And if they do, watch for NTP to hit the court system trying to get USPTO reversed.
I envision the following scenario: RIM pays a small escrow payment to NTP. In this world, "small" could be $100 million, but the escrow carries a "wait until the USPTO rules and the final court ruling comes down."
An alternative - not necessarily exclusive of my first scenario - gives NTP a small stake in RIM, with an escalator clause should things not fall RIM's way.