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| | [2006-02-21] BlackBerry Judge Denies U.S. Request for Extra Shutdown Hearing
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BlackBerry Judge Denies U.S. Request for Extra Shutdown Hearing
Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A federal judge refused the U.S. government's request for him to hold an extra hearing on how a proposed shutdown of BlackBerry service in the U.S. would work.
A jury has ruled that Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry service infringes the patents of NTP Inc. U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer will hold a hearing Feb. 24 to hear arguments on whether BlackBerry service in the U.S. should be shut down as a result.
The government is exempt under the law from having to shut down its use of the BlackBerry. The U.S. is concerned that shutting down non-governmental use of the BlackBerry may interfere with functions including dealing with federal contractors. The Blackberry's 3.2 million U.S. customers include Wall Street executives and members of Congress.
``Judge Spencer is a very fair, no-nonsense guy, and he knows RIM would like to drag this on and on,'' said NTP lawyer James Wallace. ``Whatever he decides, he's going to decide quickly.''
Spencer rejected the government's request for a second hearing that would allow testimony and other evidence on how any injunction should be implemented, according to the court's electronic docket. NTP, a licensing company, is seeking the injunction after an appeals court upheld part of a jury's infringement finding.
NTP has said the exemption also should extend to emergency responders, such as the Red Cross. In court filings, the Justice Department said it's concerned that Research In Motion won't be able to segregate those whose service should continue with those who would be stopped.
The judge also will have to decide how much money Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion should pay for past infringement.
In the fiscal year ended in March 2002, in which the suit was filed, Research In Motion had $294.1 million in sales and 321,000 users. In the nine months ended Nov. 26, the company reported $1.5 billion in revenue and 4.3 million users.
Research in Motion shares rose $2.48 to $74.71 as of 12:02 p.m. The shares have risen as high as $84.55 and fallen as low as $51 in the last 12 months, amid the threatened shutdown of three- quarters of the company's customers.
The civil case is NTP Inc. v. Research In Motion Ltd., 01cv767, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).
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