Blackberry patent case goes back to court

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Blackberry patent case goes back to court

The three-year patent dispute between Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the popular BlackBerry handheld messaging device, and NTP will make its way back to the courtroom.

Judges from a court of appeals are set to hear arguments and will decide whether or not to uphold an injunction that would keep RIM from selling BlackBerry handhelds, software and services in the US.

NTP in November 2001 filed a complaint contending that RIM's products and services infringe on at least five NTP patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) covering the use of radio-frequency wireless communications in e-mail systems.

In August 2003, the district court ruled in NTP's favour and ordered RIM to pay damages of $53.7m (£29m). The court had placed an injunction on serveral BlackBerry models, although RIM was subsequently granted a stay on the injunction pending this week's appeal.

Coupled with the lawsuit between RIM and NTP, the director of the US Patent Office in January 2003 ordered a re-examination of the five NTP patents, based on related patents and publications not considered when the patents were originally issued to NTP, a common antipatent argument known as "prior art". A ruling by the USPTO is still pending.

RIM reported that at the end of its 2004 financial year, it had 1.1 million BlackBerry subscribers, with an increase of 204,000 for its fourth quarter.

Laura Rohde writes for IDG News Service


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