RealTime IT News

Patent Office Rejects Another NTP Patent

The Research in Motion (RIM) roller coaster continued its wild ride Friday with the news of a much-needed victory in its patent fight with NTP.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued what it called a non-final rejection of a third patent owned by NTP, according to a report by "Bloomberg News."

RIM is involved in a bitter patent dispute with the technology licensing company NTP which, if not resolved, threatens to shut down service for the popular Blackberry e-mail device. The patent office has now issued letters of rejection for three of the five patents that were involved in a lawsuit filed by licensing company NTP.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer ruled RIM's $450 million settlement agreement with Virginia patent holding firm NTP is unenforceable. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled that one of the five patents at the center of the long-running dispute was invalid.

But the USPTO's rulings aren't final, and NTP is expected to contest the decision.

Because of the preliminary nature of the USPTO ruling, the door is still wide open for NTP to press for a larger settlement or to seek enforcement of an injunction cutting off BlackBerry service in the United States.

Neither RIM or NTP officials were available for comment, but the latest USPTO decision boosts RIM's claim that NTP isn't entitled to the patents.

The courts have already determined that RIM infringed on at least some of NTP's patents when it rolled out the BlackBerry in 2000. RIM engaged in settlement talks with NTP earlier this year and thought it had a deal for $450 million.

NTP contended the settlement was not official, and the court decision earlier this month upheld NTP's position.