RIM ordered to pay $US147.2 million in patent case loss, as BlackBerry developers switch to Android

Embattled BlackBerry maker Research in Motion has been ordered to pay $147.2 million after losing a patent infringement lawsuit to Mformation, while a new survey reveals a growing number of developers are abandoning the BlackBerry platform.

According to news agency Reuters, network management company Mformation originally filed the lawsuit in 2008, claiming that RIM’s enterprise server software breached its patent on remotely managing a wireless device over a wireless network.

RIM unsuccessfully tried to argue in the case that Mformation’s patent should be deemed invalid on the grounds that RIM’s enterprise server software already allowed businesses to remotely manage smartphones over a wireless network before Mformation filed for its patent.

The court ordered RIM to pay damages of $US8 for each US smartphone connected to RIM’s enterprise server software between 2008 and 2012, for a total penalty of $US147.2 million, with foreign or future damages excluded from the verdict. RIM is widely expected to appeal the decision.

The bad news was further compounded by a Baird Equity Research survey, published by AllThingsD, revealing that 31% of BlackBerry developers have shifted development resources to Android, following RIM’s announcement that its forthcoming BlackBerry 10’s platform will be able to run Android apps. Of the developers shifting resources, 28% had abandoned BlackBerry 10 altogether, while the remaining 72% are continuing a reduced level of BlackBerry development.

Overall, developers rated the long-term prospects for BlackBerry 10 at just 3.8 out of 10, compared to 6.3 out of 10 for Windows 8, 8.7 out of 10 for Android, and 9.3 out of 10 for Apple iOS.

RIM’s vice president of developer relations, Alec Saunders, responded to the survey by stating: “In the past year our BlackBerry AppWorld vendor base has grown [by] 157%. We have developers submitting amazing apps for BlackBerry PlayBook users. In fact, the BlackBerry PlayBook app catalog has grown by more than 15,000 apps since January 1 of this year. We just announced that more than 3 billion applications have been downloaded from BlackBerry AppWorld since launch.”

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