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1/20/2006
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RIM, NTP Escalate Threats, War Of Words

Both companies stepped up their attacks this week in the already nasty patent dispute, throwing out charges of nationalism, improper influence and greed.

NTP and Research In Motion (RIM), who are involved in a bitter patent dispute, escalated their threats and war of words this week.

NTP told the U.S. federal court that, if the court sides with NTP, the company would support a 30 day grace period during with BlackBerry users could switch to other products, the Reuters news service reported. NTP also said it would agree to exempt federal, state and local government users from any cut-off.

However, RIM said it wasn't practical to differentiate between users in different sectors. RIM was also quoted by Reuters as saying that it would soon offer its users a "workaround" that ignores NTP's patents.

Separately, Jim Balsillie, a co-CEO of RIM said that NTP's claims were about to be invalidated because the U.S. patent office has indicated that it will rule that NTP's patent claims are not valid. However, the U.S. district judge in charge of the case has previously said that he could ignore that fact in making his ruling.

Don Stout, a co-founder of NTP claimed that RIM or agents for that company may have attempted to exert improper influence on the patent office, particularly in light of the fact that NTP is a U.S company and RIM is Canadian.

"This is an American vendor," Stout was quoted by the Canadian-based Globeandmail.com as saying. "There's no reason why a Canadian company should . . . get that kind of treatment, if that's what's going on. There should be equal treatment."

The company noted that RIM once gave BlackBerry devices to all members of the U.S. Congress.

Globeandmail.com quoted NTP as saying that RIM's refusal to settle has hurt NTP because other companies refuse to negotiate royalty agreements with the company.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Balsillie said of NTP's actions: "It's about greed. It's about a willingness to abuse the overburdened patent system for personal gain."

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