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Old 02-22-2006, 04:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default [2006-02-22] U.S. Issues Rejection in BlackBerry Case

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U.S. Patent Office Issues First Rejection of Patents Held by NTP Related to BlackBerry Device

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The U.S. patent office on Wednesday issued its first of several anticipated final rejections of patents held by NTP Inc. related to Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry device, two days before a judge will hear arguments on an injunction on the wireless e-mail service.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is expected to issue final rejections of four other patents at the heart of the court case, but it's unclear when those actions could come.

Another uncertainty is whether the agency's act will sway U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer, who has made it clear he is anxious to be rid of the long-running and acrimonious case.

James H. Wallace Jr., an attorney for Arlington, Va.-based NTP, said the patent office wouldn't be able to rule on all the patents by Friday because the agency has yet to receive some filings from the company.

Even if the patent office issues all five rejections, its process could drag on for more than a year due to appeals within the agency and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Still, said San Francisco patent attorney Rod Thompson, the patent office's speedier actions show the agency can "move when they have to."

"There's kind of a race going on," he said. "They don't usually move like that."

Representatives of Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM did not immediately respond to e-mails and telephone calls seeking comment. But in a statement Wednesday, RIM said it had received a copy of the patent office's decision.

In 2001, NTP sued RIM for patent infringement. The following year, a jury sided with NTP and awarded the small firm 5.7 percent of U.S. BlackBerry sales, a rate that Spencer later increased to 8.55 percent.

Spencer issued an injunction in 2003 but held off on its enforcement during RIM's appeals, which largely failed.

The uncertainty surrounding the case has unnerved governments, businesses and individual users who rely on their BlackBerry handhelds. But analysts say the odds of an actual shutdown are very low because RIM will either settle the case for as much as $1 billion or introduce new software to work around NTP's patents.

There are more than 3 million BlackBerry users in the United States. Government and emergency workers would be exempted from any injunction.

The Justice Department, which wants more details about this process, is expected to appear at Friday's hearing in Richmond. Some analysts have also questioned the viability of RIM's workaround software, since few details have been released.
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Old 02-23-2006, 12:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Talking One step closer.

Yay!
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Old 02-23-2006, 12:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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One step closer to what?
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Old 02-23-2006, 07:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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One step closer to what?

To this whole thing going away.
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Old 02-23-2006, 07:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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http://www.rim.com/news/press/2006/p..._2006-01.shtml

Looks like RIM won all/most of the disputes?

From the press release:
February 22, 2006

RIM Provides Update on Patent Reexamination Proceeding

Waterloo, ON - Research In Motion (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM; TSX: RIM) confirmed today that it has received a copy of a Final Office Action issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the “Patent Office”) in the Director-initiated ex parte reexamination of NTP, Inc. Patent #6,067,451. This Final Office Action maintains the outright and complete rejection of all claims in the patent.

All of the NTP patents have been rejected by the Patent Office in initial and second Office Actions, based in part on prior art not considered in the 2002 trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The rejections from the Patent Office were all based on multiple grounds, required the unanimous agreement of 3 senior patent examiners and are expected to withstand all future appeals by NTP.

Patent #6,067,451 contains 2 of the 9 claims remaining in dispute and both claims were rejected in the Patent Office ruling disclosed today. Patent #6,317,592 contains 6 of the 9 claims remaining in dispute and all 6 claims were rejected in the Patent Office ruling disclosed by RIM on February 1, 2006. Patent #5,436,960 contains the last of the 9 claims remaining in dispute and that claim (which has already been rejected twice) is expected to receive a ruling in a Final Office Action from the Patent Office soon.
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