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Gartner to IT: Place BlackBerry deployments on hold

Gartner to IT: Place BlackBerry deployments on hold
Gartner to IT: Place BlackBerry deployments on hold 

By Juan Carlos Perez
IDG News Service

Enterprises should halt business-critical deployments of BlackBerry 
devices and investments until its maker, Research In Motion, clarifies 
its legal position with regards to its patent tussle with NTP, Gartner 
is advising. 

The market research and consulting firm issued its recommendation 
after a federal judge's decision last week opened the door to a 
possible injunction that would stop sales of BlackBerry mobile e-mail 
devices, and shut down BlackBerry service, in the U.S. 

Judge James Spencer of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern 
District of Virginia last week denied RIM's motion to enforce an 
agreement with NTP to settle the case. He also refused a RIM motion to 
stop the court proceedings in NTP's patent lawsuit against it while 
the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office re-examines NTP's patents. 

The judge ruled that the settlement agreement reached in March between 
the companies is unenforceable and that his court can't suspend the 
case during a patent re-examination that could take years. 

As a result, four Gartner analysts published a research brief on 
Monday alerting current and prospective enterprise RIM customers to 
"stop or delay all mission-critical BlackBerry deployments and 
investments in the platform until RIM's legal position is clarified." 

Gartner is also advising customers to pressure RIM into making public 
its work-around plans for preventing disruption to its service while 
bypassing the patents in question. 

Another option Gartner says enterprises can consider is to migrate 
critical BlackBerry-based applications to another platform, such as 
laptops with wireless cards. 

Deborah Maguire, executive director of the Pennsylvania Senate 
Democratic caucus, is concerned about a possible disruption in the 
BlackBerry service. She and her team support Democratic Party senators 
and other staffers. Those users have had BlackBerry devices for the 
past year, and a service blackout would be unacceptable. 

"I don't think I could do my job as efficiently as I do it now if I 
didn't have my BlackBerry, and I know that goes for a lot of the 
senators as well," she said. "The senators receive e-mail from their 
constituents on a regular basis and it makes life easier if they can 
handle them at any time." 

Maguire is keeping an eye on the situation, and already has a backup 
plan set up. In the event of a service interruption, she would go back 
to the platform from Notify Technology she moved away from when she 
adopted the BlackBerry system. 

Having a backup plan is always a good idea, even at times when there 
is no specific problem with a platform, said Allen Nogee, an analyst 
from consulting and market research firm In-Stat. 

IT directors with BlackBerry deployments should be in close touch with 
RIM, and inquiring about the vendor's latest contingency plans, he 

However, Nogee believes it is unlikely that the dispute between RIM 
and NTP will end up in a BlackBerry outage. "If that happens, no one 
gains. It would be a lose-lose situation, and that doesn't make 
sense," he said. 

Even if RIM and NTP couldn't work things out and the situation reached 
a breaking point, the BlackBerry service would probably not be turned 
off from one day to the next, Nogee said. In that case, it's very 
possible that the service would be allowed to continue for a few 
months before pulling its plug, he said. 

RIM didn't return repeated requests for comment placed via phone and 
e-mail through its public-relations agency Brodeur.

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