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.

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