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January 23, 2006

Supreme Court Rules Against RIM

Courtesy of EE Times

WASHINGTON — Research in Motion Inc.’s stock dropped 3 percent Monday (Jan. 23) after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected its appeal to reverse an appeals court ruling that could shut down RIM’s popular Blackberry network in the U.S.

RIM has been locked in a patent battle with patent brokering and holding company NTP Inc. (Arlington, Va.) since 2002.

An injunction sought by NTP, issued in U.S. District Court in Virginia, stands as a result of the Supreme Court's refusal to act. After the judge in that case issued an injunction in 2003 to halt Blackberry's U.S. service, RIM began a series of appeals ending with an Oct. 26 ruling rejecting a stay of the District Court’s patent infringement ruling.

Monday's Supreme Court ruling centered on whether RIM, as a Canadian company (Waterloo, Ontario), was not subject to U.S. patent laws.

The case goes back to the district court, which refused in November to approve a tentative $450 million settlement between RIM and NTP. RIM has asked U.S. Judge James Spencer to delay his injunction until the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) rules on the validity of the patents. But Judge Spencer has said in the past that PTO rulings have no bearing on his court's infringement rulings.

The current finding of infringement is ironic since PTO has rejected most of NTP’s original patent claims. The office is also re-examining the company’s entire portfolio of patents in the wireless data field.

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