* Judge overturns $147.2 mln jury award against RIM
* New ruling gives RIM a much needed reprieve
* RIM shares rise more than 4 percent following ruling
(Adds comment from Mformation, updates share price move)
By Euan Rocha
TORONTO, Aug 9 A U.S. judge has overturned a
$147.2 million jury award against Research in Motion Ltd
, ruling that the BlackBerry maker has not infringed a
Mformation Technologies Inc patent covering a remote management
system for wireless devices.
Wednesday's ruling, outlined in court documents, gives RIM a
much needed reprieve as it battles to conserve cash and turn
around its fast-fading fortunes. More nimble competitors have
outgunned RIM in recent months, luring away many long-time
Crucially for RIM, U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware also
granted RIM's motion seeking a new trial if a higher court
overturns his ruling. This means that the jury award cannot be
reinstated should Mformation successfully appeal the new ruling.
RIM, whose share price has fallen over 70 percent this year
as its devices have ceded ground to a new crop of smartphones
like Apple Inc's iPhone and a range of devices that run
on Google Inc's Android software, cheered the ruling.
"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," said RIM's Chief Legal Officer Steve
Zipperstein in a statement on Thursday.
Mformation, which helps companies manage their smartphone
inventory, said it is assessing its legal options and will
determine its next steps shortly.
"Mformation is deeply disappointed that the court would
overturn a jury verdict after a month of trial including a week
of thoughtful deliberation by the jury," Chief Executive Todd
DeLaughter said in an email.
RIM shares rose more than 5 percent early on Thursday to
$8.03 on the Nasdaq, but pared gains later in the day and were
up 1.1 percent at $7.70 at 1500 ET. Its Toronto-listed shares
were up 1.6 percent at C$7.68.
Mformation sued RIM in 2008 and the jury trial began in
June. The jury ruled last month that RIM had infringed the
Mformation patent and awarded the New Jersey-based company
$147.2 million in damages.
Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM argued that the jury did not
have sufficient evidence to reach this verdict and sought to
have it overturned by the judge, who was overseeing the trial.
"The court finds that there was no 'legally sufficient
evidentiary basis' on which a reasonable jury could have found
for Mformation on the issue of infringement," said Judge Ware in
RIM is no stranger to patent litigation - it was almost
crippled by a five-year patent fight with NTP 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 that case.
RIM said the dispute with Mformation highlights the need for
reforms to patent laws.
"The purpose of the patent system is to encourage
innovation, but the system is still too often exploited in
pursuit of other goals," said Zipperstein.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California is Mformation Technologies Inc vs. Research in Motion
Ltd et al., 5:08-cv-04990.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha in Toronto and Sakthi Prasad in
Bangalore; Editing by Mark Potter and Janet Guttsman)