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A Close Call For RIM

Research In Motion is still moving. U.S. District Judge James Spencer last week declined to order an immediate stop to the sale of BlackBerry devices or to the provision of BlackBerry service in the United States. But millions of customers are still not safe from a possible shutdown.


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After RIM's failed attempt to have the case reviewed by the Supreme Court, Friday's hearing ended with uncertainty. Judge Spencer reiterated that RIM had violated NTP patents but stopped short of an immediate injunction, saying he would issue a final decision as soon as possible.

BlackBerry customers have contingency plans just in case. Construction firm Barton Malow is testing Treo and Samsung mobile devices with Good Technology's wireless E-mail service as a safety net. "Our back end is ready, and we plan to transition our workers from the BlackBerry if there is an injunction," CIO Phil Go says.

RIM has asked the U.S. Patent Office to re-examine eight NTP patents, all of which have been rejected in earlier reviews. The Patent Office last week issued a final rejection of three NTP patents, but that ruling didn't help RIM in court on Friday.

RIM has developed a workaround that involves installing some new software on BlackBerrys, but it may not be necessary. "A grace period will give RIM and NTP another few months to settle the case," says John Rabena, an intellectual-property lawyer with law firm Sughrue Mion. "And I foresee that they will."

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