The US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Wednesday overturned a $147.2 million jury award against Research in Motion (RIM) [corporate website; press release]. Chief Judge James Ware granted a motion by RIM for judgment as a matter of law, vacating last month's jury verdict [Reuters report] that RIM had infringed on an Mformation Technologies [corporate website] patent covering a remote management system for wireless devices. RIM successfully argued that there existed a legally insufficient evidentiary basis for a jury to reasonably find infringement on the part of RIM. Judge Ware also granted RIM's motion seeking a new trial if Mformation should succeed in overturning the ruling, meaning the jury verdict will not be reinstated regardless of the outcome of appellate proceedings. Mformation, which originally filed its patent lawsuit against RIM in 2008, has yet to signal its intent to appeal the judge's ruling.
RIM has had legal and financial difficulties over the last few years as patent litigation has increased and RIM's competitors have performed better in the ever-growing mobile communications market. Last month RIM and Apple [corporate website] won an appeal with the US International Trade Commission (USITC) [official website], which upheld a ruling by its administrative law judge (ALJ) that RIM and Apple did not illegitimately use digital image preview technology [JURIST report] patented by Eastman Kodak [corporate websites]. Specifically the ALJ had ruled that the Kodak patent claim in question was in fact infringed by Apple and RIM products, but that the infringed claim was invalid as obvious [35 USC § 103 text] under the combination of an earlier US patent and a Japanese patent application, meaning Kodak could not recover from RIM for infringement. In 2009 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [official website] settled charges against four RIM executives [JURIST report] for stock options backdating. The four RIM executives were accused of backdating approximately 1,400 stock option grants to coincide with historically low closing prices of RIM stock.