Keller Graduate School of Management
Research in Motion (RIM)
Gbolade O. Soneyin
NETW-583-18552 Strategic Management of Technology
Professor John Lambrou
Friday, January 24, 2015
BlackBerry Limited, formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM), was a key player in the smartphone market. Created by two friends in 1984, it grew to become one of the leading manufacturers of applications and hardware for the mobile phone industry. Through services development and integrating, software, RIM was able to develop quality products. Protecting its intellectual property was one of the major security concerns of the organization in its battle with New Technology Products (NTP). The company will later found tougher challenge in the likes of Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Keywords: research in motion, rim, intellectual property, blackberry
Research In Motion (RIM), co-founded by Mike Lazaridis (University of Waterloo) and Douglas Fregin (University of Windsor) in 1984; the company was set up as an electronics and computer science-consulting firm in Waterloo, Canada. About four years later, the company would focus on the transmission of wireless data and setting up of wireless point-of-sale customer terminals using radio waves (Gillette, Brady, & Winter, 2013). At the peak of the dot-com bubble in 2000, New Technology Products (NTP); a patent holding company, sent a letter to RIM, informing them that they were infringing on eight of NTP’s patents, the letter also requested that RIM negotiate rights to license the technology in question. After an internal review, RIM came to a different conclusion that they were not infringing, RIM choose not to acknowledge the receipt of the letter. This decision will come to threaten the existence of RIM. In November 2001, NTP filed a complaint in the US courts (Weston & Lim, 2007). The court later narrows down the eight patents to five, “NTP’s five patents at issue describe systems and methods for integrating traditional hardwired e-mail systems with radio frequency (RF) networks, including receiving an e-mail message on a mobile RF receiver” (Lane, 2006). RIM’s BlackBerry system included RF receiver unit, allowing users to access email messages on their handheld BlackBerry units. RIM and NTP settled in March 2006, and RIM paid NTP $612.5 million in settlement of all claims (Ensign & Robinson, 2008). RIM ran into additional challenges while attempting to penetrate the Chinese market, the company was “successful in signing new partners throughout Asia, but China remained a difficult market to crack… holdup was an impasse with regard to RIM’s use of encryption technology and the Chinese authorities’ desire to monitor e-mail traffic and content.” (Ensign & Robinson, 2008). After settling with NTP, RIM’s army of lawyers had their hands full, fighting back tons of other patent infringement challenges from many firms looking to get a piece of RIM. Not only the lawyers were busy though, RIM also began monitoring their employees as well. To protect its intellectual properties, “all actions carried out on RIM's internal network were logged” (Tindal, 2009), RIM’s Chief Information Officer, Robin Bienfait, once said in an interview that staff are “doing business inside of RIM. Everything they can say or do can be patented.” RIM also encourage and expect employee working on or testing beta devices to protect them while off campus. Many of the employees were quick to report possible breaches and RIM too is quick to take actions to mitigate any breach. RIM also published guidelines of how to interact with its intellectual property; they also utilize trademark, logos, and other technology to protect them, including real-time GPS tracking and locating of devices. For a long period of time RIM was on top, there were no real competition, and many people cannot seems to do without their BlackBerry devices. The...
References: Ensign, P. C., & Robinson, N. P. (2008). BlackBerry in Red China: Research in Motion Navigates Institutional Barriers in an Emerging Market. Thunderbird International Business Review Vol. 50, No. 2, 129-142.
Gillette, F., Brady, D., & Winter, C. (2013, December 5). The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry: An Oral History. Retrieved from Bloomberg Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-05/the-rise-and-fall-of-blackberry-an-oral-history
Hardy, E. (2006, August 7). Pictures Leaked of a BlackBerry with Camera, Music, and Video Support. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from Brighthand: http://www.brighthand.com/news/pictures-leaked-of-a-blackberry-with-camera-music-and-video-support/
Lane, J. (2006). NTP, Inc. V. Research In Motion, Ltd.: Inventions Are Global, But Politics Are Still Local - An Examination of the BlackBerry Case. Berkeley Technology Law Journal Vol. 21:59, 59-77.
Monica, P. R. (2011, November 4). Black (and Blue) Berry: What 's next for RIM? Retrieved January 21, 2015, from CNN Money: http://money.cnn.com/2011/11/04/technology/thebuzz/
Tindal, S. (2009, March 4). RIM Records Employee Calls To Protect IP. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from CNET: http://www.cnet.com/news/rim-records-employee-calls-to-protect-ip/
Weston, D., & Lim, D. K. (2007). BlackBerry: A Teaching Case for WIPO. IPRIA Case Study, 1-16.
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