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BlackBerry Under Fire

Facing seven claims of patent infringement, RIM considers Supreme Court appeal

Could Research In Motion Ltd. be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court? Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld seven claims of patent infringement made by NTP Inc., down from the original 16 claims. The court ordered the case back to the District Court, where a number of things could happen, including an injunction that stops RIM from selling BlackBerrys in the United States or a settlement between the two companies.

RIM says it's considering asking the Appeals Court for another review with the full bench of judges (a three-judge panel gave the ruling) and may even take the case to the Supreme Court.

If the case ends up back in District Court, NTP could be ordered to accept a settlement or the court could issue a new ruling in favor of RIM. "NTP is dragging its feet by not settling with RIM, and it might end up working in RIM's favor," says Carl Zetie, an analyst at Forrester Research. Meanwhile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reviewing NTP's remaining claims; RIM says it has rejected two of them.

But RIM isn't out of danger. Says Louis Ederer, an attorney with Torys LLP: "It appears likely that the District Court will enter a judgment in NTP's favor and will prevent the use of BlackBerrys in the U.S., unless this goes to the Supreme Court."

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