TG Daily Top-10: Tech lawsuits of 2006

2 - NTP versus RIM

The four-year NTP versus RIM patent fight finally ended in March. RIM settled for a mind-boggling $612.5 million just as an injunction on sales and service closed in. NTP, a patent holding company, argued that RIM was infringing on its wireless email patent and the case dragged on as the case bounced from US District Court to the Appeals Court and back down to the lower court.

With the settlement, RIM lifted a huge black cloud that was possibly choking off sales of new units. Consumers and companies had been leery of buying Blackberry devices because NTP wanted to stop RIM's wireless email service. RIM had been preparing a technical work around to get around a possible shutdown and even the Department of Justice pleaded with the judge to keep the service alive. Many government agencies rely on the Blackberry for their communications.

Of course the NTP/RIM story doesn't end with the settlement. Several months later NTP slapped Palm with a similar patent lawsuit and RIM recently sued Samsung for its 'BlackJack' phone. NTP's patents are currently being reviewed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and have a good chance of being repealed.

Article coverage:
RIM settles with NTP

1 - Sony DRM lawsuit - Texas and others sued Sony for rootkit

Sony tops our top-10 lawsuits of 2006 with its settlement of the DRM-protected CDs lawsuit. The Electronic Freedom Frontier along with California, Texas and New York, sued Sony after security researcher Mark Russinovich accidentally found a rootkit on one of his music CDs. The lawsuits claimed the rootkit was installed automatically and without appropriate warnings. In addition, the rootkit could have opened other vulnerabilities for hackers to take advantage of.

After details of the rootkit were released, news organizations hunted Sony like sharks, but if secretely installing a rootkit wasn't bad enough, the company's mishandling of public relations added more blood to the water. Sony executives told the public that the rootkit wasn't a big deal and First 4 Internet, the actual developers of the software, said that it wasn't actually a rootkit at all. Sony even released an uninstaller that security researchers claim opened up further vulnerabilities.

Sony eventually took all the protected music CDs off store shelves and as part of the settlement offered free music and cash to buyers of protected CDs. Even though Sony also topped our other Top-10 Technology Disappointments for 2006, we really don't want to pick on Sony. In 2006, it just seems, they have been shooting themselves in the foot. The good news here is that it really can't get any worse in 2007.

Article coverage:
SNOY settles in DRM case

More articles in this series:
Top-10 Most significant Hardware of 2006
Top-10 Technology Disappointments