Research in Motion, the ailing smartphone maker, has been told by a US jury to pay damages of $147.2m (£94.7m) after being found to have infringed a patent belonging to mobile device management technology provider Mformation Technologies.
The US District Court for the Northern District of California found that Mformation's wireless mobile device management patent was infringed by RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) software. BES is generally used by corporate enterprise customers to manage and secure their BlackBerry devices.
The $147.2m figure was based on sales of BES-connected BlackBerry smartphones in the US from late 2008 (when the lawsuit was filed), through to the trial date. It does not include future royalties, past and future US government sales, or past and future non-US sales.
Commenting on the case, Mformation founder, chief technology officer and patent inventor Rakesh Kushwaha emphasised the importance of the company's patents.
"We ensured that our early innovations in device management were put through rigorous legal assessment by applying for patents on these innovations in the US and abroad, he said. "Now these patented technologies are central to many critical mobile device management tasks being used by operators, service providers and enterprises around the world, including remote device configuration, lock/wipe and application management."
In response to the case findings, RIM suggested that it could appeal the ruling.
"RIM is disappointed by the outcome and is evaluating all legal options," it said in a statement. "Additionally, the trial judge has yet to decide certain legal issues that might impact the verdict. RIM will await those rulings before deciding whether to pursue an appeal.
"RIM does not believe that the Mformation patent in question is valid," it continued.
The court ruling adds to the Canadian manufacturers' difficulties, after a whirlwind year in which the company has lost almost 80 per cent of its stock market value and 5,000 employees. It follows a fourth quarter deficit of $125m and a first quarter $518m net loss over the three months to 2 June.
Just last week, RIM CEO Thorstein Heins promised to turn the company into a "lean, mean hunting machine".
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