RIM’s Last Stand?

Research in Motion returned to court today to appeal
a ruling barring it from operating its wireless e-mail service in the United States.

Opening arguments were heard Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. RIM is appealing a lower court’s
decision that its service infringes on patents owned by NTP, Inc.

NTP, an Arlington, Va., holding company, sued RIM in 2001, claiming
its wireless e-mail service infringed on eight NTP patents. RIM lost a 2002
jury trial, and last August, a U.S. court found that RIM had infringed on
five NTP patents and ordered it to pay $53 million in damages. The ruling
barred RIM from selling BlackBerry devices in the United States until NTP’s
patents expire in May 20, 2012, but that injunction was stayed, pending the
appeal trial that started today.

While RIM and NTP battle in court, NTP has additional troubles. The U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office said it will reexamine five of the eight NTP
patents listed in the original complaint. The patents to be reexamined are
U.S. Patent Numbers 5,625,670; 5,631,946; 5,819,172; 6,067,451 and
6,317,592.

Despite the legal cloud, RIM continues to forge
new partnerships. This month, it inked deals with Canadian telco Rogers
Wireless and Belgian operator Mobistar. It has also teamed with IBM to integrate WebSphere Everyplace Access mobile middleware and
BlackBerry Enterprise Server and made an agreement with PalmSource to
develop BlackBerry connectivity on Palm OS.

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