| | 10-25-07, 10:40 AM Thread Author #1
Timeline: The History of Research in Motion
A History of RIM... from Concept to Canada's Most Valuable Company
Two engineering students - Mike Lazaridis (University of Waterloo) and Douglas Fregin (University of Windsor) - co-found Research in Motion. The company was set up as an electronics and computer science consulting business based in Waterloo. Within four years, the company would focus on the transmission of wireless data and setting up of wireless point-of-sale customer terminals using radio waves.
RIM's wireless foray takes off. The company becomes the first wireless data technology developer in North America and the first company outside Scandinavia to develop connectivity products for Mobitex wireless packet-switched data communications networks. The technology is mainly used for business communications, such as processing credit-card sales.
The company had been focusing on working with pagers, but the focus shifted to two-way wireless communication when the research staff found a way to not only receive a message on a pager, but to send messages back as well. Lazaridis was determined to turn this into a way to send e-mail over wireless networks.
Jim Balsillie joins RIM, putting $250,000 of his own money into the company.
RIM introduces its first wireless handheld, the Inter@ctive Pager.
RIM is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange as a publicly traded company - and raises more than $115 million from investors.
RIM introduces its first BlackBerry, a wireless handheld computer. The company signs agreements with several companies including BellSouth Wireless, IBM and Rogers Cantel, to provide wireless service. It offered a six-line display and allowed basic e-mail and two-way paging. Users could also browse specially formatted pages that offered news, weather, stock market data and travel information.
RIM is ranked as one of Canada's fastest-growing technology companies. The concentration of those companies in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., region leads some to refer to the area as Silicon Valley North.
RIM is listed on the NASDAQ exchange. The company raises another $250 million to develop its BlackBerry technology.
RIM introduces the BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld, putting together e-mail, wireless data networks, and a traditional - if tiny - QWERTY keyboard so successfully in a hand-held device that demand for it explodes. Some refer to the device as the "Crackberry."
RIM raises another $950 million through a share offering.
Nov. 13, 2001
A group of Illinois-based inventors files a lawsuit in a U.S. Federal Court, accusing RIM of building its wireless e-mail network by infringing on patents held by an American patent-company, NTP Inc. of Virginia.
RIM upgrades the BlackBerry to include voice and data transmission. E-mail capabilities are improved so users can access multiple e-mail accounts.
Nov. 21, 2002
A jury rules in favour of NTP and orders RIM to pay $23.1 million.
Aug. 5, 2003
A judge issues an injunction banning sales of the BlackBerry in the United States. But the ruling is stayed, when RIM files an appeal.
Research in Motion celebrates its 20th anniversary as the BlackBerry surpasses one million subscribers worldwide.
Dec. 14, 2004
An appeals court upholds most of the claims that RIM infringed on NTP's patents. The court also says part of the lower-court ruling was flawed and orders the lower court to take another look at the case.
Mar. 16, 2005
RIM agrees to pay $450 million to settle the dispute, sending its stock soaring more than 17 per cent.
June 9, 2005
RIM and NTP fail to finalize a settlement, and RIM says it will ask a judge to enforce the terms of the March deal.
Aug. 2, 2005
The case is sent back to the Federal Court in Richmond, Va., after the Appeals Court scales back its 2004 ruling.
Oct. 7, 2005
U.S. Appeals Court refuses to reconsider its ruling. RIM announces it will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oct. 26, 2005
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts rejects RIM's motion to stay case while the high court decides whether to hear an appeal.
Nov. 30, 2005
The case returns to Richmond, where a judge refuses to force NTP to accept the proposed $450-million settlement with RIM.
Dec. 7, 2005
NTP says it is willing to settle the case in exchange for a royalty rate of 5.7 per cent over the life of the patents.
Jan. 17, 2006
NTP proposes 30-day grace period before any cut-off of BlackBerry service to U.S. users, and also says federal, state and local government users of the BlackBerry should be exempt from a halt in U.S. service.
Feb. 9, 2006
RIM says it has tested software workaround designs for BlackBerry service in the U.S. market, if needed.
Feb. 17, 2006
RIM says it remains open to a "reasonable" settlement with NTP.
Feb. 22, 2006
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues final rejection of one of the five disputed patents owned by NTP Inc.
Feb. 23, 2006
RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie tells a technology conference in Whistler, B.C., that the company has developed and tested a way to continue to allow BlackBerry service to continue in the U.S., should a judge order it to immediately stop infringing on NTP patents.
Balsillie also says the company would be willing to boost its payment to NTP to settle the dispute.
Feb. 24, 2006
U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer declines to issue an injunction that would have immediately shut down BlackBerry service to American customers. In his ruling, the judge said it was clear that RIM had infringed on NTP patents. He said he would decide on damages and whether to eventually issue an injunction "as soon as reasonably possible."
NTP had asked for an immediate injunction that would have shut down BlackBerry after 30 days, as well $126 million in damages. Royalty payments would be on top of that award.
Observers said the judge appeared upset that the two parties had not resolved the dispute on their own.
March 3, 2006
Research in Motion and NTP finally announce a settlement of their long-running patent dispute. RIM agrees to pay NTP $612.5 milllion US to settle all claims and for a "perpetual, paid-up licence going forward." Under terms of the deal, NTP will give RIM the "unfettered right" to continue all of its BlackBerry services. The agreement allows RIM to sell all of its products and services without the need to pay further royalty payments to NTP. RIM's wireless carriers, partners, suppliers and customers will not have to pay licensing or royalty fees to NTP. The settlement is approved by the court and all NTP litigation against RIM is dismissed. Research in Motion has already put aside $450 million to account for a possible settlement. The additional $162.5 million US will be reflected as a charge in the fourth quarter.
In a separate announcement, RIM warns that the number of new subscribers to its BlackBerry service will fall short of expectations by as much as 120,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter. The uncertainty caused by the dispute with NTP was evidently causing many potential customers to either put off their BlackBerry purchases or choose a competing wireless product, like Palm's Treo.
For RIM and its customers, the uncertainty is now over. BlackBerry service will not be shut off.
March 5, 2007
RIM takes a $250-million US accounting charge for issuing stock options at less than fair market value. Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie agree to pay the company up to $5 million each toward the cost of its accounting review. The two, plus many other RIM execs, repay gains from the improperly priced options. The Ontario Securities Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigate RIM's option grants.
Oct. 4, 2007
RIM announces that its BlackBerry subscriber list has passed the 10-million mark.
Oct. 23, 2007
Alcatel-Lucent announces an agreement to distribute BlackBerry smartphones in China. The news sends RIM shares up eight per cent, making RIM the most valuable company in Canada, based on market capitalization. Its $68-billion market worth briefly eclipses Royal Bank's during intraday trading on the TSX. RIM's shares are up 150 per cent since the start of the year.