Research in Motion is under legal fire from a Omaha, Neb., company that claims the BlackBerry maker infringed on its patents. Prism Technologies LLC filed a complaint with a U.S. trade agency that could lead to an import ban on BlackBerry devices.
Prism alleges that RIM's smartphones, servers and desktop software infringe on an authentication process patent that works with the digital services consumers engage online. In addition to a lawsuit in Nebraska federal court, Prism filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Wednesday.
The trade commission is an independent federal agency that, among other things, directs actions against unfair trade practices involving patent, trademark and copyright infringement. The commission has the authority to order U.S. customs officials to block goods from entering the U.S., which could spell trouble for RIM since some of the devices Prism points to are made outside the U.S.
Trouble for the Curve?
For example, Prism pointed to the BlackBerry Curve 8330, which is manufactured in Canada and Mexico. Blocking the Curve's entrance into the U.S. could wreak financial havoc on BlackBerry's smartphone business since the model topped its U.S. roster in the third quarter, according to the NPD Group.
To put the matter into perspective, NPD reported the Curve outsold Apple's popular iPhone in the third quarter. In fact, the Curve helped contribute to RIM's impressive 37 percent rise in sales, totaling $3.53 billion in the quarter. RIM also expects strong fourth-quarter Curve sales.
Of course, RIM is denying the allegations and fighting the suit in the Nebraska federal court. Prism wants an undisclosed sum of cash in the suit filed 12 months ago. Prism previously targeted Microsoft for patent infringement and convinced the software giant to ante up a settlement three months ago. By pushing the complaint to the International Trade Commission, Prism appears to be attempting to pressure RIM into a settlement.
Critical Security Advisory
In other BlackBerry news, Nimbuzz launched a new app that lets users connect with each other on their favorite social networks. The native functionality allows Nimbuzz to run constantly in the background, push alert notifications to the screen, and integrate notifications with sound profiles so users won't miss messages. The free application supports Skype, MSN, Google Talk, Yahoo, Facebook and MySpace.
And on the security front, RIM has issued a critical security advisory to fix a flaw in its BlackBerry Enterprise Server software. The vulnerability could allow a hacker to execute malicious code and take over the infrastructure.
RIM's advisory says, "These vulnerabilities could enable a malicious individual to send an e-mail message containing a specially crafted PDF file which, when opened for viewing on a BlackBerry smartphone that is associated with a user account on a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, could cause memory corruption and possibly lead to a denial-of-service condition or arbitrary code execution on the computer that hosts the BlackBerry Attachment Service component of that BlackBerry Enterprise Server."