The Crackberry saga

This morning’s Observer column

The Blackberry saga has turned out to be a high-tech rehash of Bleak House’s Jarndyce v Jarndyce. And, as in the Dickens novel, nobody comes out of this looking good. RIM was foolish to have ignored NTP’s claims early on, when it could have settled for a modest amount. But it didn’t, and its product took off and suddenly made it a valuable target, which in turn stiffened the resolve of NTP’s lawyers to stick with the case.

The story also highlights the absurdity of the legal chains that now entangle the technology industry. After all, NTP makes nothing, delivers no service, makes no contribution to society other than by paying its taxes. RIM has created a service that apparently offers fantastic benefits to consumers – and may enhance governments’ ability to communicate in crisis situations. Yet it’s RIM which may go under. It’s daft. But that’s intellectual property for you…

Quirky note: Just noticed (Sunday, 10:06 UK time) that the column is top of Google News coverage of the saga. As far as I know, that’s a first for me.