Case Analysis 2 – Research in Motion - RIM:
Research the history of RIM, specifically with an eye toward product development
Research in Motion, or RIM, is a Canadian multinational telecommunications company based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1984, by Mike Lazaridis, an engineering student at the University of Waterloo, and Douglas Fregin, an engineering student at the University of Windsor. For years the company tinkered in obscurity, until it focused on a breakthrough wireless technology in 1998, an easy, secure, and effective device that allowed workers to send and receive e-mails while away from the office. They called it the BlackBerry (BBRY). RIM grew into one of the world’s most valuable tech companies. The BlackBerry became the indispensable accessory of business executives, heads of state, and Hollywood celebrities, they were on top of the world. Until iPhone and Android came along and spoiled the party. From early on, RIM focuses its sales and marketing efforts on corporate customers, not consumers. This marketing strategy may lead to RIM's demise in the future. Today the company, which has been renamed, simply, BlackBerry, is burning through cash as sales keep falling. On Nov. 21, BlackBerry shares closed at just above $6, the lowest it’s been in almost 15 years.
What were some of the challenges that RIM faced to protect its intellectual property, and how did RIM handle those challenges?
As RIM began it's clime to the top of smart-phone industry, it's dominance kept other manufacturers from challenging the company on patents or intellectual property. But as RIM's control of the market slowly declined the first challenge came. A group of Illinois-based inventors files a lawsuit in a U.S. Federal Court, accusing RIM of building its wireless e-mail network by infringing on patents held by an American patent-company, NTP Inc. of Virginia. In Nov. 2002, a judge ruled in favor of NTP and ordered RIM to pay $23.1 million. After an appeal and further legal battles, RIM and NTP finally announce a settlement of their long-running patent dispute. RIM agrees to pay NTP $612.5 million US to settle all claims and in return it gets "perpetual, paid-up license going forward." And under terms of the deal, NTP will give RIM the "unfettered right" to continue all of its BlackBerry services. The agreement allows RIM to sell all of its products and services without the need to pay further royalty payments to NTP.
Then in 2008 an Ottawa-based intellectual property holder Wi-LAN Inc. files patent infringement litigation in Texas against BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. and U.S. mobile-device giant Motorola Inc. Wi-LAN, which is also suing network and switching equipment maker UTStarCom Inc., claims the companies have infringed on two U.S. patents related to mobile hand-held devices. Patent licensing firm, Wi-LAN has settled the pending patent litigation with Canada's Research in Motion (RIM) and updated its 2008 financial guidance as a result of recent license signings. As a result of the legal settlement, rim has obtained a license to certain patents of Wi-LAN in the area of wireless technology and the litigation between the two companies will be dismissed.
The single most valuable product they have BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), and most likely what has been saving the company financially by tying users to BlackBerry devices despite iOS and Android taking over, is now under naming infringement fire. A company called BBM Canada based out of Toronto, is a company who "provide broadcast measurement and consumer behavior data, as well as industry-leading intelligence to broadcasters, advertisers and agencies”. This company has been trying to contact RIM to settle issues with their use of the name BBM, as they have been affected by it's use. BBM Canada employees receive calls for customers trying to get support for RIM's products, thus causing BBM Canada internal productivity issues. RIM...
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