BlackBerry Maker Squashed for $53M

A U.S. District Court upholds an injunction sparked by a NTP patent lawsuit, that may prevent RIM from selling its e-mail device in the states... that is until RIM can appeal.


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A U.S. court Tuesday issued a ruling that may prevent Research In Motion (RIM) from selling its popular BlackBerry device in the United States and force it to pay $53 million.

The case stems from a two-year-old patent lawsuit between NTP Inc. and RIM. The Virginia-based holding firm accused the PDA maker of infringing on a handful of patents owned by NTP. RIM was originally accused of violating eight NTP patents. The appeal would be based on the jury verdict rendered on November 21, 2002, which only covers five patents.

A judge with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said the order would not take effect right away. Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM still has a chance to file an appeal. If RIM loses the appeal, the injunction would remain until NTP's patents expire as late as May 20, 2012.

As previously reported, NTP. filed a complaint in November, 2001 alleging that certain RIM products infringed on patents held by NTP Inc. that cover the use of radio frequency wireless communications in electronic mail systems. A jury verdict reached in the District Court in November, 2002 favored NTP.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said it has will reexamine five of the eight patents listed in the original complaint NTP patents named in the suit. Representatives with NTP were not immediately available for comment.

The patents to be reexamined are U.S. Patent Numbers 5,625,670; 5,631,946; 5,819,172; 6,067,451 and 6,317,592.

RIM said it was pleased with the stay of the injunction and commented that it will conduct an internal inquiry centering on all five of the patents NTP claims RIM has infringed on.

"RIM has always disputed the validity and infringement of the NTP Inc. patents and we continue to believe the jury verdict was wrong as both a matter of law and fact," RIM lead counsel Henry Bunsow said in a statement. "We now look forward to the thorough reexamination of these patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and to the review of the entire record by the Court of Appeals. While the remaining reexamination and appeal processes may take several years to complete, we remain confident that RIM will ultimately prevail in this matter."

The November 2002 ruling asked for $23 million in damages.

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