RealTime IT News

High Court Rejects RIM's Appeal

UPDATED: The U.S. Supreme Court Monday dealt Research in Motion (RIM) another serious setback in its long-running patent infringement battle with NTP, denying the developer of the widely popular BlackBerry a high-court review of the case.

RIM was seeking a decision of the validity of U.S. patent laws on the Canadian-based company, which maintains its principal servers in Waterloo, Ontario.

"RIM has consistently acknowledged that Supreme Court review is granted in only a small percentage of cases and we were not banking on Supreme Court review," Mark Guibert, RIM's VP for corporate marketing, said in an e-mail statement to internetnews.com.

In a press release issued shortly after the decision, the company said, "RIM sought review because it believes the case raises significant national and international issues."

The Supreme Court did not. The case now goes back to the U.S. District Court in Virginia, where RIM faces a possible shutdown of its U.S. service and a settlement with NTP for as much as $1 billion.

"The Supreme Court's denial closed the final path for RIM to avoid liability," NTP said in a statement.

The Virginia court must decide whether to reinstate an injunction against U.S. sales of the BlackBerry. Last November, the same court supported the Virginia-based NTP's efforts to reject a $450 million proposed settlement with RIM.

U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer said the term sheet entered between RIM and NTP in March 2005 to settle the litigation is not an enforceable agreement.

"Today's [Supreme Court] order has no bearing on the merits of the outstanding issues in the [Virginia] case," RIM insisted in its statement.

The November ruling allows NTP to continue moving forward in the case, including the reinstatement of a 2002 injunction that "prohibits RIM from selling, using or importing into the United States infringing BlackBerry hardware and software until the last of the litigated patents expires in 2012."

NTP said in November any injunction would not affect the usage of BlackBerry products by federal, state or local governments or by first responders. RIM claims if NTP prevails in gaining an injunction, it has software workarounds to keep its popular products in U.S. hands.