Well, it appears that the dark days continue for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) as they are being sued for patent infringements.
On Tuesday afternoon, NXP Semiconductors NV, a Dutch semiconductor company, filed suit against RIM, alleging that certain models of its BlackBerry smartphone and PlayBook tablet infringe on its patents. The suit has brought further troubles to RIM and sent its shares tumbling.
The suit that was filed in the U.S. District court in Orlando, Florida, is ironically the same city in which RIM plans to hold its annual BlackBerry World Conference in May.
NXP’s suit accuses RIM of “violating six patents issued between 1997 and 2008 covering everything from wireless data transmission range expansion to computer bus systems and circuit manufacturing processes.” The company is seeking an injunction against any further infringements, lost profits and three times the damages for what it claims are willful infringements.
The is not the first time RIM has been faced with patent litigation. The company was almost brought to its knees by a five-year patent fight that began in 2001 and at one point threatened to shut down RIM’s U.S. operations. RIM eventually paid out more than $600 million to NTP Inc, a patent holding company, to settle the case.
Last week RIM reported on dismal fourth quarter earnings with the company saying that it will stop issuing financial forecasts as it reviews its strategic options with shares having already fallen more than 80 percent in the last 12 months.
BlackBerry recently reported losing home-ground advantage to Apple for the first time. Sales in Canada, which account for about 7 percent of RIM’s revenue, fell 23 percent in the fiscal third quarter from a year earlier as U.S. sales tumbled 45 percent.
Litigation has become a major weapon in a global patent war being waged among makers of mobile phones, tablet computers and their operating software in a market worth billions of Dollars.
RIM declined comment on the suit, citing its policy about pending litigation.