Judge Overturns Infringement Case Against RIM, Saving Them $147 Million

A US judge has overturned a patent infringement ruling against Waterloo’s Research In Motion, giving the beleaguered BlackBerry maker a break to the tune of $147 million—the amount it would have had to dish out to Mformation Technologies in New Jersey.

Mformation is still allowed to appeal the ruling. However, even if it were successful in doing so, that would simply result in a new trial, not a reinstatement of the penalty.

“We appreciate the Judge’s careful consideration of this case. RIM did not infringe on Mformation’s patent and we are pleased with this victory,” Steve Zipperstein, RIM’s new chief legal officer, said in a statement. “The purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation, but the system is still too often exploited in pursuit of other goals.”

With more than $2 billion in cash, RIM could have afforded to pay the penalty without difficulty. But with a sunken stock and shrinking marketshares in many countries, the Canadian company needs that rainy day fund for a real emergency.

In 2006, RIM was hammered with a $600-million court loss to patent company NTP over infringement. Some day that hit was an inflection point for RIM, which turned the company into a lawyer-driven, risk-averse company doomed to fail.