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Will RIM Resort to Patent Trolling to Boost Business?

There's new speculation that RIM may resort to patent trolling in order to boost business. This move is supposedly one of many options currently on the table that is expected to help RIM get through the next two quarters until it launches a BlackBerry 10 smartphone or tablet. The news isn't surprising given that RIM's competitors are all entangled in some kind of patent-based lawsuit because, after all, this is the Age of Patent Infringement Litigation.

The speculation stems from an exclusive report by Reuters back on April 21. RIM reportedly hired on law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy to help iron out a restructuring plan that may include selling assets, seeking joint ventures or selling patents. Taking an aggressive stance with the patents it currently has in-house is supposedly one of those options too -- meaning RIM may actively seek out companies infringing on those patents to gain additional cash.

At one time RIM was reportedly aggressive about its patents, but fell back after its battle with NTP, Inc back in 2000. During a trial, the latter company claimed it owned patents covering wireless email, but RIM tried to prove that a functional wireless email system was already in the public domain by the time NTP's inventions were made. But eventually the jury ruled in favor of NTP, claiming that RIM "willfully" infringed on the patents and thus caused NTP $33 million in damages. By 2006, RIM finally agreed to settle the dispute and cough up a meaty $612.5 million (USD).

RIM reportedly became a target after the owner of NTP read in the newspaper about RIM suing numerous competitors over its own patents. Now rumor has it that RIM will take up the patent troll mantle once again just as it did years ago. Currently it's unclear as to what patents RIM currently holds, or if they pose any kind of threat to iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Reuters reports that RIM posted a $125 million loss in its most recent quarter. It took an even larger hit three months earlier thanks to the underwhelming PlayBook tablet. RIM's stock has plunged 75-percent in the last 12 months, giving the company a market value under $7 billion, the report said.