Research in Motion's downward spiral saw a slight reprieve in its four-year long intellectual property case with Mformation Technologies Inc., after the Judge presiding over the case in the US District Court for Northern California overruled the jury's prior decision. The ruling effectively reverses the $147.2 million fine imposed as part of the verdict issued last month.

The case goes back to 2008 when the US mobile device management software firm sued RIM, accusing it of infringing a patent covering a process that remotely manages a wireless device over a wireless network. Last month, the jury ruled in favor of Mformation and ordered RIM to pay an $8 royalty fee on every BlackBerry device connected to its Enterprise Server Software.

RIM appealed the verdict, insisting that the patent was invalid because it was already in use when Mformation filed its patent application.

The judge concluded that the evidence submitted by RIM and Mformation "did not support the Jury's finding of patent infringement" and overturned the jury award. The latter has the right to appeal, which if successful would result in a new trial as opposed to the reinstatement of the jury's original award.

RIM said it is happy with the decision, claiming it was a triumph of sensible innovation over patent trolling. "We appreciate the Judge's careful consideration of this case. RIM did not infringe on Mformation's patent and we are pleased with this victory," said Steve Zipperstein, RIM's Chief Legal Officer.

"The purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation, but the system is still too often exploited in pursuit of other goals," he added. This view is shared by many others that feel the patent system is in need of reform as technology firms increasingly engage in patent warfare against each other around the globe.