RIM Takes A $147 Million Kick to the Ribs

RIM has not been having a good year, and it officially just got worse as a judge has decided that RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server software infringed on a patent held by Mformation, a company specializing in mobile device management.

RIM was ordered to pay an $8 royalty fee on the 18.4 million units that access the infringing software, meaning RIM owes $147 million in damages as of this weekend. This figure only included US-based devices sold to non-government employees, and Mformation’s attorney, Amar Thakur, told Bloomberg that the figure could double or triple if the company seeks damages on future sales outside the US and to government employees.

Obviously, RIM is not taking this lying down, especially since capitulating would require them to recode their software or pay Mformation royalties.

This may or may not be patent trolling, but the problem is that this hits RIM exactly where it hurts: its
enterprise business. As we’ve noted before, falling subscribers in just one market, North America, was enough to hand it a disastrous quarter, and it looks like they’ll have two more before launching any new software in early 2013.

It also may make investors, who are already just a wee bit disturbed by a company they’ve got some major money in circling the drain, just a wee bit edgier than they already are. That’s about the last thing RIM needs as it fights to get through 2012.

Good luck, guys. You’ll need it.

image courtesy Matt Hurst on Flickr

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