BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has been found liable for $147m (£95m) in damages for infringing on patents held by Mformation Technologies, a US software firm.

Thorsten Heins
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins shows off BlackBerry 10 Reuters

RIM has been found guilty by a federal judge in San Francisco of infringing on patents held by Mformation Technologies relating to wireless management of devices so corporate customers can remotely upgrade software, change passwords or wipe data from a stolen phone.

The Canadian smartphone manufacturer may also have to pay further costs if Mformation Technologies chooses to ask for royalties for every time RIM uses technology covered by the patents.

RIM is in serious trouble at the moment, and as it struggles to keep hold of its loyal business users amid mass migration to Android and iOS, losing a patent infringement case relating to corporate features of its phones is the last thing the company would have wanted.

With the all-new BB 10 operating system and touch-screen phones to run on it due in January, some analysts are starting to wonder if RIM can even survive until then.

Similar remote access and data wiping features are available on other devices, such as Apple's iPhone and iPad as part of its iCloud service, but Mformation chief executive Todd DeLaughter declined to say if his company was planning to go after the iOS giant as well as RIM.

When asked if he was worried that the lawsuit would speed up the demise of RIM, DeLaughter said: "When BES 4 started shipping, RIM was a healthy company. The suit should never have gone to court. It should have been settled three years ago."

RIM's share price has fallen nearly 95 percent since its all-time high of $144 in june 2008, the price now hovers around the $7 mark after unsuccessful products and a huge migration of users moving away to Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

The cost of the lawsuit works out at $8 for each user of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) version 4, as the lawsuit was filed in October 2008, when that version was new.

The lawsuit covers 18.4 million corporate BlackBerry users connected to BES.

Mformation could now sue RIM in Europe, where it holds patents for the same technology.

The BlackBerry maker said: "RIM has worked hard for many years to independently develop its leading-edge BlackBerry technology and industry-leading intellectual property portfolio, and RIM does not believe that the Mformation patent in question is valid."

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