Criticism of patent office in BlackBerry row

Published 1 February 2006

BlackBerry’s legal wrangling brings more criticism of U.S. patent office, with life science-IT battle over patent law reform looming

As we have reported, two large industries — life science and high-tech — and their armies of lobbyists are engaged in a pitched battle over reforming the U.S. patent law. The life science sector wants patents to be more difficult to impinge on without sever penalty and it wants judges to have less flexibility in meting out penalties to violators. The high tech industry wants patents to be more flexibly treated, and it wants judges to be able to assess penalties on violators without shutting down entire production lines. Highlighting the issue is the legal battle of BlackBerry and its e-mail service. Congressman Tom Davis (R-Virginia) now charges that the patent office has not devoted enough resources to addressing the validity of the patents at the heart of the BlackBerry row. If patent re-examination requests from the BlackBerry maker — Canada-based Research In Motion — had been addressed more expeditiously, the controversy could have been resolved before it threatened a service that is critical to the government, Davis wrote in a 27 January letter to the director of the U.S. patent office. In its arguments before the court, BlackBerry said that its service should not be shut down because it is essential to U.S. critical infrastructure and to the nation’s first response capabilities.

-see Davis’ letter to the PTO; NTP’s request for an injunction against BlackBerry