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| | [2005-10-07] Court Ruling in BlackBerry Case Puts Service to U.S. Users at Risk
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Court Ruling in BlackBerry Case Puts Service to U.S. Users at Risk
OTTAWA, Oct. 7 - A court decision Friday renewed the possibility that service to BlackBerry wireless e-mail devices might be cut off for most users in the United States.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington rejected a request by Research in Motion, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry, to rehear its appeal of a patent infringement case brought by NTP Inc., the patent holder. A three-judge panel of the court ruled in August that Research in Motion had violated seven of NTP's patents.
As part of that litigation, NTP, whose only assets are wireless e-mail related patents, had been granted an injunction banning the sale of BlackBerry devices in the United States and forcing Research in Motion to stop providing e-mail services to all American customers except government account holders.
While the court declined Research in Motion's request for a complete rehearing by all 12 of its judges, it did order the panel of three judges to review some aspects of NTP's patent claims.
Kevin Anderson, a lawyer for NTP, said the company would now ask the court to apply the injunction to the patent claims that are no longer under review. Those patents, he added, are broad enough to prevent Research in Motion from continuing service in the United States, which accounts for about 70 percent of its revenue.
"The case is pretty much over," Mr. Anderson said.
Friday afternoon, however, Research in Motion said it would request that the court hold off on any action while it asks the Supreme Court for a review, although it acknowledged that such reviews are "uncommon" in patent cases.
"RIM continues to believe this case raises significant national and international issues warranting further appellate review," the company said.
Shares of Research in Motion hit a 52-week low of $64.55, down $2.42.
With the backing of the Canadian government, Research in Motion has argued in court that NTP's claims do not apply to BlackBerry software because it is held only on computers near its headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario. NTP does not hold any wireless e-mail patents in Canada. It is based in Annandale, Va.
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