RIM Suffers Another BlackBerry Legal Defeat


UPDATED The $450 million patent dispute settlement between the Canadian-based maker of the popular BlackBerry wireless e-mail device and NTP, Inc., a Virginia
patent firm, is invalid, according to a court ruling issued Wednesday morning.


U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer said the term sheet entered between
Research in Motion and NTP in March to settle the
litigation is not an enforceable agreement. Other details of the ruling
were filed under seal by the court.


The ruling is another legal setback for RIM following a U.S. Supreme Court
ruling in October denying an
emergency appeal of the patent infringement ruling against the company.


RIM contends it wasn’t aware of NTP’s intellectual property when it launched
the BlackBerry in January 2000. It also argues that it hasn’t received
sufficient proof of the relation of the patents to RIM’s products.


Wednesday’s decision opens the door for NTP to press for perhaps as much as
$1 billion in infringement damages and seek an injunction barring RIM from
marketing it services in the United States.


According to a statement issued by NTP, the ruling allows the company
to continue moving forward in the case, including re-confirmation of an
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.”


The statement also said any injunction would not affect usage of BlackBerry
products by federal, state or local governments or by first-responders.


In its statement on the decision, RIM said it is “preparing software
workaround designs which it intends to implement if necessary to maintain
the operation of BlackBerry services in the United States.”


The company also said it is reviewing any accounting implications of the
decision.


Three years ago, a Virginia court ruled that the BlackBerry infringed on
patents held by NTP. In March of this year, the two companies preliminarily
reached a $450 million settlement, but further talks fell through in June.


RIM then returned to court, seeking enforcement of the $450 million figure.

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