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3/14/2006
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BlackBerry Maker RIM Calls For U.S. Patent Reform

Now that it has settled a long-running patent infringement lawsuit filed by NTP Inc., BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is calling for a "more balanced" U.S. patent system.

Research In Motion Ltd., which recently settled a patent-infringement lawsuit that threatened to shutdown its popular BlackBerry email service, on Tuesday called for a "more balanced" U.S patent system.

In an open letter on its Web site, the Canadian company thanked customers and partners for their loyalty during the long-running suit, in which RIM supporters expressed concern about "a patent system in obvious need of reform."

In the letter, Mike Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive of RIM; and Jim Balsillie, chairman and co-chief executive of the company, questioned why "the patent system should allow such a bizarre set of circumstances to threaten millions of American customers in the first place."

"The good news is that this topic is currently receiving much more attention from policymakers and the Supreme Court and we hope the patent system will evolve to close the loopholes and become more balanced," the letter said.

RIM settled this month the suit filed by NTP Inc., agreeing to pay the patent-holding company $612.5 million. A federal jury sided with NTP in 2002, agreeing that RIM had infringed on five patents. RIM failed to overturn the ruling on appeal, and faced a possible, though unlikely, shutdown of its network.

Before the settlement, the U.S. Patent Office had rejected several NTP patents. However, it wasn't clear what impact, if any, the decisions would have on the court proceedings.

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