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| | [2006-01-18] RIM Blackberry shut down may hurt US
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RIM: BlackBerry Shutdown May Hurt U.S.
By STEPHANIE STOUGHTON, AP Business Writer Wed Jan 18, 4:11 PM ET
RICHMOND, Va. - Research In Motion Ltd. says its BlackBerry e-mail device is so critical that a court-ordered shutdown of U.S. service could threaten public safety and business productivity.
The Canadian company is trying to avoid a possible injunction, the result of a long-running infringement case won by NTP Inc., a tiny patent-holding firm.
In a filing Tuesday in federal court in Richmond, RIM argued that there is "exceptional public interest" in keeping BlackBerries beeping. And the idea of exempting government and emergency users from an injunction - which NTP has suggested - would result in errors, RIM said.
"It would be extraordinarily impractical, if not impossible, to devise and administer an injunction that would protect government and private-sector BlackBerry users who would be - or should be - excluded from an injunction," the company wrote.
In a filing of its own Tuesday, NTP asked U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer for a permanent injunction. The Arlington, Va.-based company noted that RIM users have plenty of alternatives, and it would give them 30 days to make their moves.
The injunction, NTP said, would end widespread infringement of its patents by RIM and its corporate customers. "RIM must simply turn those accounts off in the same fashion as when a customer fails to pay its bill," it said.
RIM's filing included supportive comments by emergency, government and business leaders. In fact, RIM said it believes the federal government is the single largest user of BlackBerry devices. Federal, local and state officials have made the devices a key part of their emergency response plans. Many government users and contractors also use it for daily communications.
BlackBerries are used to provide drug-interaction data to physicians and are part of planning for an avian flu outbreak, according to the filing. The natural-gas and financial industries said they depend on BlackBerries, and their statements help show that an injunction "would have far-reaching impacts on productivity in the U.S. economy," RIM said.
RIM said any workaround solution would likely require significant effort by users, prompting some to leave. Software would have to be loaded onto servers and BlackBerries, and users could experience delays and other problems. BlackBerry users overseas might also be required to upgrade to use their devices in the United States.
Many analysts have said the odds of a BlackBerry e-mail blackout are very low because RIM will settle or try to make changes to work around NTP's patents. Neither side has been commenting on settlement talks.
A federal jury in Richmond decided against RIM in November 2002. Since then, RIM has largely lost in the appeals process. The company has asked the Supreme Court to review one decision; the high court could decide next week whether it will hear the case.
On a separate track, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has preliminarily rejected the patents at the heart of the court case. RIM asked Spencer to consider the issues in light of the office's expected final rejections, which could come "in a matter of weeks."
The patent office's process, however, isn't as far along as the court case, and any decision could be appealed by NTP. Spencer has indicated that he was unlikely to delay the case while awaiting word from the patent office.
Last edited by NJBlackBerry : 01-23-2006 at 12:08 PM.