Supreme Court Tunes Out RIM Patent Spat

The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday that it has denied device maker Research In Motion's motion to delay further proceedings in its patent suit with NTP until it decides whether or not to accept the device maker's appeal.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday that it will not suspend a lower courts patent infringement judgment against device maker RIM (Research In Motion) as it considers whether or not it will hear an appeal from the company over the matter.

Newly-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts denied RIMs motion to review the injunction, which could force the handheld device manufacturer to shut down some of its services in the United States, based on a 2002 ruling against the company in its patent suit against NTP.

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In December 2004, a federal appeals court reinforced the ruling against RIM which established that the company had infringed on 11 different patents held by NTP regarding wireless radio frequency technology used in mobile e-mail systems.

At the time of that ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington gave RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, permission to continue to market its services that used the technologies in question while awaiting further review.

As part of the Federal Circuit Courts decision, it vacated the earlier injunction and damages awarded as a result of the District Court trial in 2002, and remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings.

The Federal Circuit decision also reversed or vacated the infringement finding on 9 of the 16 total litigated patent claims.

However, RIM conceded in a press release issued Wednesday that it expects NTP to ask the Virginia District Court where the case was originally decided to enter a new injunction prohibiting it from providing its BlackBerry wireless service, and from using, selling, manufacturing or importing its handhelds and software in the United States.

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"While RIM maintains that an injunction is inappropriate given the facts of the case and substantial doubts raised subsequent to trial as to the validity of the patents in question, it ultimately will be up to the courts to decide these matters and there can never be an assurance of a favorable outcome in any litigation," the company said in a statement.

In March, 2005, RIM and NTP reached a $450 million settlement agreement regarding the patents, but the deal fell apart in June, with RIM saying that it would ask for court action to enforce the accord.

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