RealTime IT News

RIM, Sony Ericsson Strike Licensing Deal

By Sean Kerner

Research In Motion continues to expand its reach and distribution, despite pending legal actions that threaten its ability to do business in the United States.

The maker of the popular BlackBerry devices on Monday said its wireless e-mail technologies will be integrated into Sony Ericsson's mobile phones.

The pact is part of RIM's "BlackBerry Connect" licensing program that enables mobile device makers to tap into BlackBerry Enterprise Server and BlackBerry Web Client services. A spokesman for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM was not immediately available.

RIM first announced its licensing program at the CTIA Wireless show in March. Since then, it's landed Sony Ericsson rivals Nokia and Symbian among its licensed partners.

This most recent agreement was announced with RIM's third-quarter earnings. RIM posted revenue of $153.9 million, up 22 percent during the three-month period, up from $125.7 million in the previous quarter and up 107 percent from $74.2 million in the same quarter of last year. Net earnings were $16.3 million, or 20 cents per share, better than last quarter's $2.1 million, or 3 cents per share profit.

The company has made a slew of announcements in recent months. Last week, RIM announced an agreement with PalmSource to develop BlackBerry connectivity on Palm OS. In late November, RIM's first color device, the BlackBerry 7730 handheld, was released.

A wide-reaching agreement with IBM was announced in September that integrates the development of solutions using WebSphere Everyplace Access mobile middleware and BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

All these positive announcements have occurred while RIM has been under a legal shadow that threatens to stop it from selling its products in the United States.

RIM's fate rests on the final outcome of a patent lawsuit with Virginia-based holding firm NTP. In August, a U.S court found that RIM had infringed on NTP patents and ordered RIM to pay $53 million in damages.

More importantly, the ruling barred RIM for selling BlackBerry devices in the United States. If RIM loses on appeal, the injunction would remain until NTP's patents expire as late as May 20, 2012.

Despite that potentially gloomy prospect, the upbeat earnings report convinced several brokers to raise their ratings and price targets on RIM. Shares of the company's stock were up more than 40 percent at one point today, breaking through its 52-week high.