The US Supreme Court has refused to hear Blackberry manufacturer RIM’s appeal against a previous court ruling that said it infringed NTP’s patents for push e-mail technology, meaning the US Blackberry network is moving even closer to a complete shutdown.
NTP filed a patent infringement lawsuit against RIM in 2001. The company won its case, and in 2003 a district court granted an injunction against RIM to halt US sales of the Blackberry device and its service.
The court stayed the injunction pending RIM’s appeals. An appeal court has already upheld the patent infringement judgement and RIM’s initial settlement offer has been rejected by the district court as unenforceable.
It means that unless a settlement is imminent the district court could close RIM’s US network in a matter of weeks. Should this happen, Blackberry users visiting the US will not be able to use their devices to receive e-mail there.
The two sides are expected at the district court to hear the judge’s final judgement next month.
For its part, NTP last week promised that Blackberry customers would get a 30-day “grace period” before having their devices cut off, although it promised government workers and emergency workers that they would still be able to use their devices after this period.