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Suits Sprout Around RIM Foe

Observers expect RIM to pursue a settlement, but the company says it's got other options. RIM is seeking another appeal hearing with the Supreme Court and is awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The company has also been working on a so-called software workaround that would allow the service to operate without using the contested patents.

In the past week there has been speculation that RIM is preparing a couple approaches to a workaround, should it be forced to use it.

Among the solutions is an email alert that sends a wireless message to a device with the basic information about the email like sender, subject, time and date. The current BlackBerry service sends most or all of the email. NTP has argued that it has a patent on the "push" technology that sends email to your office inbox and your wireless device simultaneously.

This particular workaround, which presumably involves only a software change at RIM's network center, would send users just the header or identifying information about the email and let users retrieve the email if they wanted it.

A RIM representative declined to comment on any specifics of the workaround, and questioned the validity of recent speculation.

"We have not yet disclosed workaround details due to confidentiality and legal strategy considerations, but we are actively considering a communications plan and timing," the rep said in an email.

But skeptics remain unconvinced.

"What I don't understand is, if they have a workaround solution ready, why don't they use it?" says Ovum analyst Roger Entner.

Entner has not seen any of the proposed workaround solutions, but says based on the description of the "push" header and pull email, the system could possibly sidestep the patent problem.

"It's not elegant, says Entner, "but it is certainly cheaper than a big settlement."

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