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Don't Call Him a Troll

5:55 PM -- James Wallace is not returning my calls.

Actually that's understandable. Wallace, an intellectual property lawyer with the prominent Washington firm of Wiley, Rein & Fielding, is pretty busy these days: He's the lead lawyer for NTP Software in NTP's patent-infringement lawsuit against BlackBerry . In other words, he's the guy trying to bring down Blackberry. (See RIM Wins Reprieve.)

On WR&F's Website I've been able to learn that Wallace, who graduated from the University of South Carolina and from Georgetown Law, is regularly named one of the "Best Lawyers in America," and that Washingtonian magazine named him one of D.C.'s top patent attorneys. Wallace has litigated numerous pharmaceutical patent disputes including the fascinating -- and relevant to NTP v. RIM -- case of Claritin, the market name of the antihistamine loratadine.

In 2002 Schering-Plough sued several drug companies that were applying to market generic versions of loratadine, seeking to extend its exclusive patent rights to Claritin, then the top-selling prescription antihistamine on the U.S. market. James Wallace was one of the defense lawyers in that case. Schering-Plough lost, the patent was invalidated, and Claritin became available over the counter in late 2002.

This was a case of a big company making massive profits off an exclusive product trying to preserve its intellectual-property rights to continue reaping those massive profits. Sound familiar? Most analysts and observers – including, of course, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie -- think of NTP as a patent troll, trying to squeeze an innovative technology giant for a big cut of the profits on Blackberry.

I'm betting Jim Wallace sees NTP as a lonely underdog waging a heroic struggle against a powerful foe that's gouging users of its product. Now if he'd just return my call...

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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