Research In Motion (RIM)
RIM is headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and is a sponsor of RIM Park in the northeast of the city. It was founded by Mike Lazaridis, who currently serves as its co-CEO along with Jim Balsillie.
Prior to the manufacture of the BlackBerry, RIM worked with RAM Mobile Data and Ericsson to turn the Ericsson-developed Mobitex wireless data network into a two-way paging and wireless e-mail network. Pivotal in this development was the release of the Inter@ctive pager 950, which started shipping in August 2000. About the size of a bar of soap, this device competed against the SkyTel two-way paging network developed by Motorola.
RIM’s early development was financed by Canadian institutional and venture capital investors in 1995 through a private placement in the privately-held company. Working Ventures Canadian Fund Inc. led the first venture round with a C$5,000,000 investment with the proceeds being used to complete the development of RIM’s two-way paging system hardware and software. A total of C$30,000,000 in pre-IPO financing was raised by the company prior to its initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange in January, 1998 under the symbol RIM.
Since then, RIM has released a variety of devices running on GSM, CDMA, and Motorola iDEN networks. The ubiquity of these BlackBerry devices in the corporate environment and the compulsive use of its ability to quickly send and receive e-mail has earned it the nickname “Crackberry” in a reference to crack cocaine as users feel they cannot live without it.
In 2006 Research In Motion and Information Appliance Associates have reached a licensing agreement whereby RIM will offer the complete version of PocketMac for BlackBerry to Macintosh users free of charge.
In October 2008, RIM was named one of “Canada’s Top 100 Employers” by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean’s newsmagazine.
RIM announced in February 2009 that they were expanding their global operations by opening an office and training facility in North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Just across the Harbour Bridge, ten minutes from the Sydney CBD, the new RIM offices were formally unveiled by Mr Thomas A.MacDonald, Consul General of Canada, at a ceremony attended by dignitaries from the New South Wales Government and North Sydney Council, as well as RIM’s partners and customers. The new office features training facilities, a research and development centre, a strategic partner marketing centre and technical support services. Total workforce provides 12,000 jobs world wide.
In June 2009 RIM has announced they were acquiring Dash Navigation, makers of the Dash Express
On 18 August 2009, Fortune Magazine named RIM as the fastest growing company in the world with a growth of 84% in profits over three years despite the recession.
The BlackBerry product line has just celebrated its 10th anniversary, while RIM has just passed 25 years as a company. In 10 years they have sold 50 million wireless handset units world wide (as of Q4 2008), making it the second best-selling smartphone in the world.
On March 26, 2010, Company announced acquisition of BlackBerry applications developer Viigo, a Toronto-based company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
RIM reached an agreement with Harman International on April 12, 2010, for RIM to acquire QNX Software Systems. “RIM is excited about the planned acquisition of QNX Software Systems and we look forward to ongoing collaboration between Harman, QNX and RIM to further integrate and enhance the user experience between smartphones and in-vehicle audio and infotainment systems,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at RIM. “In addition to our interests in expanding the opportunities for QNX in the automotive sector and other markets, we believe the planned acquisition of QNX will also bring other value to RIM in terms of supporting certain unannounced product plans for intelligent peripherals, adding valuable intellectual property to RIM’s portfolio and providing long-term synergies for the companies based on the significant and complementary OS expertise that exists within the RIM and QNX teams today.”
On September 27th 2010, RIM announced the long rumoured BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer. It will ship to consumers in early 2011.
Since the turn of the century, RIM has been embroiled in a series of suits relating to alleged patent infringement.
In 2001, Research In Motion sued competitor Glenayre Electronics Inc for patent infringement, partly in response to an earlier infringement suit filed by Glenayre against RIM. RIM sought an injunction to prevent Glenayre from infringing on RIM’s “Single Mailbox Integration” patent. The suit was ultimately settled.
In June 2002, Research In Motion filed suit against 2000 start-up and competitor Good Technology. RIM filed additional complaints through-out the year. In March 2004, Good agreed to a licensing deal, thereby settling the outstanding litigation.
On September 16, 2002, Research In Motion was awarded a patent pertaining to keyboard design on hand-held e-mail devices. Upon receiving the patent, it proceeded to sue Handspring over its Treo device. Handspring eventually agreed to license RIM’s patent and avoid further litigation in November of the same year.
During the appeals, RIM discovered new prior art that raised a “substantial new question of patentability” and filed for a reexamination of the NTP patents in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. That reexamination was conducted separately to the court cases for infringement. In February 2006, the USPTO rejected all of NTP’s claims in three disputed patents. NTP has appealed the decision, and the reexamination process is still outgoing as of July 2006 (See NTP, Inc. for details).
On March 3, 2006, RIM announced that it had settled its BlackBerry patent dispute with NTP. Under the terms of the settlement, RIM has agreed to pay NTP US$612.5 million in a “full and final settlement of all claims.” In a statement, RIM said that “all terms of the agreement have been finalized and the litigation against RIM has been dismissed by a court order this afternoon. The agreement eliminates the need for any further court proceedings or decisions relating to damages or injunctive relief.”
On July 17, 2003, while still embroiled in litigation with NTP and Good Technology, RIM filed suit against Xerox in the U.S. District of Hartford, Connecticut. The suit was filed in response to discussions about patents held by Xerox that might affect RIM’s business, and also asks that patents held by Xerox be invalidated.
On May 1, 2006, RIM was sued by Visto for infringement of four patents.
On January 22, 2010, Motorola requested that all BlackBerry smartphones be banned from being imported into the United States for infringing upon five of Motorola’s patents. Their patents for “early-stage innovations”, including UI, power management and WiFi, are in question.
RIM stock option scandal settlement
In 2007 Co-CEO Jim Balsillie was forced to resign as chairman as the company announced a $250-million earnings restatement relating to mistakes in how it granted stock options. Furthermore, an internal review found that hundreds of stock-option grants had been backdated, timed to a low share price to make them more lucrative.
In January 2009, Canadian regulators stated that they were seeking a record penalty of $80 million USD from the top two executives, Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. Furthermore, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has pushed for Balsillie to pay the bulk of any penalty and relinquish his seat on RIM’s board of directors for a period of time.
On February 5, 2009, several executives and directors of Research In Motion agreed to pay the penalties to settle an investigation into the backdating of stock options. The Ontario Securities Commission approved the arrangement in a closed-door meeting.
Under the terms of a settlement agreement with the OSC, RIM co-chief executive officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, as well as chief operating officer Dennis Kavelman, will jointly pay a total of $68-million (CDN) to RIM to reimburse the company for losses from the backdating and for the costs of a long internal investigation. The three are also required to pay $9-million (CDN) to the OSC.
Mr. Balsillie will step down from RIM’s board of directors for a year, but will remain in his executive role.