Gartner advises halting BlackBerry rollouts

The ongoing patent dispute in the US has led the analyst firm to recommend firms stop all mission-critical BlackBerry deployments

Analyst firm Gartner has advised its clients to halt all mission-critical deployments of Research In Motion's BlackBerry email devices because of a legal battle that could see a judge effectively shut down the company's US operations.

Patent-holding firm NTP contends that it owns the patents for the technology that powers the BlackBerry. At stake is Research In Motion's (RIM) right to operate in the US. According to Gartner, NTP has already won an injunction that would force RIM to "shut down its US operations".

The research note advises enterprises to "stop or delay all mission-critical BlackBerry deployments and investments in the platform until RIM's legal position is clarified" because "US BlackBerry users would lose messaging services... and international users would lose message service while travelling in the US".

However, Gartner expects the two companies to reach a settlement within three weeks, because an agreement would be "in both companies' interests".

There is a possibility that RIM could bypass the patent dispute by deploying a workaround but Gartner said this path could be "highly problematic".

"RIM claims its work-around is legally sound, but its history in the courts does not inspire confidence. Moreover, end-user validation and implementation would take time, resulting in a temporary loss of service," the research note said.

According to Gartner, enterprises should "not to sign any agreements that could involve them in the RIM/NTP dispute" and "demand that RIM discloses its work-around plans".

If RIM deployments are not mission critical, Gartner said enterprises could take no action for the moment but "assess the potential impact of operation outages of unknown duration".