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Visto Has Eyes For RIM BlackBerry Users

Meanwhile, legal maneuvering in RIM-NTP patent case goes on, with final legal briefs due today.

While BlackBerry users impatiently wait for a resolution in the Research In Motion-NTP patent infringement lawsuit, the companies' attorneys and the Justice Department are scheduled to submit final legal briefs today.

The next critical court date for RIM will be Feb. 24, according to a Reuters report, when a federal court hearing in the Eastern District of Virginia could determine whether the BlackBerry service will be shut down or will continue operating in the United States.

Meanwhile, RIM's competitors are seizing the opportunity to try to win over BlackBerry customers with their own wireless E-mail services. Visto is submitting a declaration to the U.S. District Court today that asserts it's capable of providing service to all BlackBerry users within 30 days in the event of a BlackBerry shutdown.

Visto claims that its wireless "push" E-mail would make a good alternative to the BlackBerry service because it doesn't work with proprietary hardware and is available on 75 mobile devices such as the Palm Treo 650 and the Motorola RAZR, available from wireless carriers like Cingular, Sprint, Vodafone, and Canada's Rogers Wireless.

However, Visto became involved in its own patent spat earlier this week when it filed a lawsuit against Good Technology, another wireless E-mail provider. That suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, alleges that Good Technology’s products and services violate multiple patents held by Visto. "Visto is asking the courts to enjoin Good from selling products that infringe our patents," says Daniel Mendez, Visto's senior VP.

In December, Visto sued Microsoft for patent infringement, claiming that the Windows Mobile 5.0 platform violates its wireless E-mail technology patents.

Visto then signed a licensing agreement with NTP, which is suing RIM for alleged patent violations. "Our user base continues to grow rapidly, as users realize that we offer the one product that not only is technologically superior, but is covered by two significant IP portfolios in the space: NTP’s, which Visto licensed in 2005, and Visto’s own, which was developed in-house when we started the company ten years ago," Mendez says.

Good Technology also had licensed NTP patents. The company says it cannot comment on Visto's claims until it has an opportunity to review them.

The series of lawsuits dominating the wireless E-mail space shows that there aren't many stable options out there for mobile users. Both Good Technology's GoodLink and RIM's BlackBerry are popular E-mail services on mobile devices. And while other options like Visto are available, a shutdown of GoodLink and BlackBerry could leave thousands of users temporarily without service.

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