12-23-2005, 10:36 AM
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| | Patent Decision Promised By February
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Patent Office Leaps Into Fray Over BlackBerry Shutdown
By Craig Anderson
San Francisco Daily Journal
SAN JOSE - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may have thrown a lifeline to the company that makes the popular BlackBerry e-mail message service, which is fighting to block an injunction that would shut it down in this country.
In a move that patent attorneys say is extraordinary, and perhaps unprecedented, the government agency has assigned a special team to re-examine the patents in question to determine whether they are valid. A decision has been promised by February.
"I am not familiar with this ever happening," said Jeffrey Fisher, chairman of the intellectual property and technology group with Farella Braun & Martel in San Francisco.
"This is obviously a reaction by the patent office to the pending litigation and all of the publicity surrounding it," he added.
Pulling BlackBerry's Plug
in a decision released last week, the director of the patent office's Central Re-examination Unit wrote that the office planned to mail its final decision less than six weeks after NTP files its own response, which is expected before the end of the year.
Lissi Mojica Marquis, a director in the patent office, said the agency wants to move quickly because of the pending federal case, and is giving NTP just 30 days to respond instead of the usual 60.
"Given the district court's concerns that the office has delayed the proceeding and the outstanding public interest in ensuring that these proceedings are acted upon with special dispatch, the office has assigned a dedicated examining team to handle all of the co-pending proceedings, and this team will be responding to all communications expeditiously" in the various patent disputes, Marquis wrote in her Dec. 14 letter.