Not sure how many folks watched the drama of BlackBerry Vs NTP in the US, but it shows the strength of the US legal system in protecting ideas. BlackBerry, makers of wireless email device paid $612.5 million to NTP for allegedly infringing on NTP's patents. Following article from economist succintly explains the issue. Intellectual property Black and Blue Nov 24th 2005 From The Economist print edition Drop that BlackBerry now IT IS addictive and anti-social—but could using your BlackBerry also be illegal? An American judge is poised to rule whether the ubiquitous BlackBerry wireless e-mail service should be shut down in the United States, as part of a bitter intellectual property lawsuit. Over the past four years the number of BlackBerry users has risen from 300,000 to more than 4m. The devices have become so popular that they help keep the global economy humming, by enabling millions of professionals to work from anywhere. Now white-collar workers face the grisly prospect that, with their BlackBerries out of commission, they may have to pay attention to their children, rather than their e-mail. In 2002 Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian firm that makes the gadgets as well as the back-end software that manages the system, lost a patent infringement suit to NTP, a company that comprises little more than a handful of lawyers and the patents of Thomas Campana, an inventor who earned more than 50 patents on wireless-data systems before dying last year. RIM was ordered to pay damages (around 8% of sales in America) and an injunction to halt BlackBerry service in America was postponed pending appeal. The appeals court watched as RIM and NTP negotiated a settlement for $450m in March 2005; a joint press release was duly issued. But by June the deal unravelled; neither party will say why. In October the appeals court issued its decision largely reaffirming RIM's infringement. So the injunction to halt BlackBerry service looms. This month America's Department of Justice asked the court to ensure that BlackBerry service continues for government employees, particularly congressmen, who have come to rely on it. Yet it still seems likelier that a deal will be reached than that the BlackBerry will go dark. RIM claims it can upgrade the system with a new technical “work-around” that offers the same services, without treading on the NTP patents—which have anyway recently been thrown into doubt by America's Patent Office. And a financial settlement may yet be agreed: this week RIM asked the court to enforce the $450m deal. It seems strange that such a massive sum should go to a small, unknown firm. But courts have consistently looked at the evidence and so decided. Perhaps that is the price of protecting ideas.