PATENT LAW
Technology

Blackberry addicts are facing their darkest fears as Blackberry manufacturers, Research in Motion (RIM) try to overturn a court decision they lost five years ago to NTP who hold a patent which NTP say (and a court upheld) had been infringed in the Blackberry hand held mobile/computer device. RIM received good news last week when the US Patent Office ruled that the patent owned by NTP was not relevant to RIM’s invention and should be cancelled. But simultaneously on the 24 th February the US District Court in Richmond, Virginia, will decide whether NTP’s 2003 injunction against RIM should stand. RIM are contesting the injunction not least because they believe that in the event of a decision against RIM, NTOP could be fully compensated by financial recompense. A tentative £235 million settlement between the parties failed and the US Supreme Court has refused to intervene, leaving the decision to the District Court (Judge James Spencer).

ADDENDUM: Judge Spencer has now issued his judgement (24th February 2006) and has not ordered the immediate shut down of RIM’s service although he did not accept that the Blackbery service was a ‘vital telecommunications service’.  The judge expressed disapointment that BTP and RIM could not come to a commercial agreement in the four year patent dispute but said that in default of that the court would decide how much RIM would have to pay to NTP. However, as the matter stands this is a reprieve for RIM and not a final judgement. RIM’s shares jumped on the news and on Nasdaq closed $4.53 higher at $74.05.