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From Europe, it might look like two bald men fighting over a comb, but the fight between Research In Motion and Good Technology is deadly earnest.

RIM escalated its suit yesterday against the new arrival - which in March began to produce an always-on communicator and middleware very similar to the successful Blackberry device and infrastructure - with a fresh look-and-feel action.

Last month RIM filed suit against Good claiming the latter breached four RIM patents. But Research In Motion isn't just using the IP club against the well-funded Sunnyvale start-up: it's also decided to license the platform to OEMs.

History suggests licensed platforms have a better long-term success rate than closed platforms, but RIM is up against a variety of ambitious players, including small players like Handspring (which doesn't have a proprietary back-end); Danger (which does) The Beast itself, and perhaps most ominously of all Nokia. Last year Nokia declared its future would be as a "software company", and half of its 20,000 engineers write are engaged writing software. All want a piece of the pie, and in the case of the latter two, as much as they can eat.

Research in Motion is claiming injunctive relief and cash damages. There's no response in the "GoodNews" section on the defendant's web site yet. ®

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