Monday, October 10, 2005

Blow to a Brand 

I feel sorry for PR practitioners handling this situation. RIM is risking ruination of its brand in the US, if it cannot get the Supreme Court to overturn patent decisions that have gone against it. The company appears to be able to afford a $53 million payout, if it has to make one, but it lives in an environment of uncertainty with competitors swarming and ready to steal Blackberry users. If there was ever a time for firefighting in PR, this is it.

I hope RIM has savvy attorneys who understand that the power of public opinion will be vital in keeping the company's brand safe while appeals proceed. This is no time for RIM to be hiding. It has to make its case and survive no matter the outcome. RIM needs a consistent stance. It might be something along the line that RIM will not abandon customers in the US and will serve them as it has always done whether or not the case goes against it.

I don't know the particulars of this patent infringement case, but there has been discussion that the patent system is out of control when one can patent a concept without turning it into reality. In the old days of the US Patent Office, an inventor had to present a working model of an invention to get a patent. This proved too cumbersome even before the turn of the 20th Century, but the idea was a good one. One can't say he or she has invented something until making the idea work.


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