Nokia has entered into a patent licensing agreement with holding company NTP that includes the five patents currently under litigation between Research In Motion and NTP, officials said today.
Nokia Corp. needed to take that step to go forward with U.S. sales of a version of its 6820 phone that can connect to Research In Motion Ltd.s popular BlackBerry e-mail server, Nokia officials said.
"Weve gone ahead and licensed the NTP patents, and this gives us the opportunity to get these things out on the market," said Keith Nowak, a Nokia spokesman in Irving, Texas, the Finnish companys U.S. headquarters. "You should see them available to customers in the next two to three months."
Nokia unveiled the messaging phone in November 2002. Due in the second half of last year, the phone was to include support for the BlackBerry server when it came to market.
But the legal concerns over the five patents kept Nokia from offering RIM support in the United States.
Last August, a federal judge ruled in NTPs favor in a patent-infringement case against RIM, ordering RIM to pay $53.7 million for past damages and attorney fees.
The ruling also included an injunction barring RIM from selling, using or importing its Blackberry handhelds and server software in the United States. While the court stayed the injunction pending appeal, Nokia officials said they remain concerned.
"From our legal looking at it, we wanted to make sure everything was in place before we moved forward," Nowak said.
Officials at Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM insisted that Nokias decision does not affect the pending case, in which RIM issued its final appeal last week.
"This is good news for RIM in so far as Nokia is moving ahead and launching BlackBerry Connect in the United States," said Mark Guibert, vice president of corporate marketing at RIM. "Otherwise, this has no impact on the merits of RIMs appeal before the court or the re-examination process under way at the patent office."
PalmOne Inc. is expected to release a BlackBerry-enabled version of its Treo smart phone later this year.
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