Research In Motion Licenses JPEG Patent

Research in Motion (RIM), the embattled provider of wireless e-mail devices and services, has entered into a patent licensing agreement for technology relating to the JPEG format, Forgent Networks said on Friday.

Forgent owns data compression technology that it says is central to the display of JPEG images. It’s in the process of suing approximately 40 companies for infringement, including Apple Computer , HP and Xerox .

“Any time there’s a digital still image, whether on a computer, PDA or cell phone, that typically employs a JPEG, which, by default, would include our technology,” said Michael Noonan, Forgent’s director of investor relations.

Meanwhile, RIM is embroiled in a four-year-old patent infringement suit filed by NTP. NTP charges that RIM’s wireless services infringe on its patents. The company thought it had reached a settlement, but negotiations fell through, and RIM’s appeals for an emergency stay of a 2002 judgment have been denied.

RIM’s only hope now is a new trial in district court to determine whether the NTP patents are valid.

Since Forgent began its licensing program more than three years ago, the company said it’s collected more than $100 million in revenues primarily from licensing the patent to more than 40 different companies.

Forgent didn’t disclose the terms it gave RIM, but Noonan said in all cases, perpetual licenses are granted for a one-time payment. “Some companies will act early, either saying they won’t pay or negotiating a solution, as Sony did. Other companies will wait until the last minute, until there’s a Markman hearing or trial date,” he said.

He wouldn’t reveal information about the negotiation with RIM other than that it was “a business discussion that went rather smoothly.”

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