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2/24/2006
05:18 PM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina
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A Settlement Would End RIM's Legal Battle; Even The Judge Agrees

In the latest chapter of the Research In Motion-NTP saga, U.S. District Judge James Spencer didn't issue an immediate injunction to shut down the BlackBerry service, as many have expected. He said he would make a final decision as soon as possible, although stating loud and clear that RIM had been found to violate NTP's patents. It looks like he's trying to buy more time and drive the two companies to settle outside of court.

In the latest chapter of the Research In Motion-NTP saga, U.S. District Judge James Spencer didn't issue an immediate injunction to shut down the BlackBerry service, as many have expected. He said he would make a final decision as soon as possible, although stating loud and clear that RIM had been found to violate NTP's patents. It looks like he's trying to buy more time and drive the two companies to settle outside of court.Judge Spencer said in court on Friday that RIM and NTP wouldn't be happy with the legal decision he would impose, and that it might be "imperfect." On the other hand, a settlement would allow the companies to work out terms that would benefit both sides. Some say, however, a settlement that covers future use could reach as much as $1 billion.

At this point, it looks like the best way out for RIM. Despite final rejections issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week, the U.S. District Court still maintained that RIM infringed NTP's patents.

Now NTP could appeal the patents once again, prolonging the case even further. But RIM seems to be confident in the case it has presented. RIM's Co-CEO Jim Balsillie provided InformationWeek with the following statement:

"NTP has been very disingenuous with the court and the public. They have not offered RIM an agreement with reasonable terms and our court filings demonstrate that fact clearly. RIM filed an affidavit from a leading licensing expert that unambiguously explains that NTP's settlement offer is disingenuous and illusory. NTP wants the world to believe they're being reasonable in order to limit the public outrage, but the truth was exposed in court today. NTP also failed to demonstrate any credible plan to protect the nearly one million users that the government believes should be exempt from any potential injunction.

"As of today, all of the patents remaining in dispute have also been rejected by the Patent Office reexamination team, despite NTP's clear efforts to obstruct the process. These rulings vindicate RIM's position and prove that the patents should have never been issued in the first place.

"We're looking forward to the eventual decision and we're feeling comfortable with our contingency plans in any event."

As I mentioned in my previous blog , even if an injunction is issued in the coming weeks, a grace period will allow RIM and NTP to decide on a settlement. After all, the judge made it clear during the hearing that it's something the companies should have done a long time ago.

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