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Judge lets BlackBerry stay… for now

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BlackBerryOwners of BlackBerry wireless e-mail devices can continue to use them, at least for now. A federal judge Friday declined to immediately stop the service, which is at the heart of a long-running patent dispute. That gave another reprieve to the company that makes the BlackBerry, Research in Motion, and its estimated 3.2 million customers in the United States.

The judge did not give a timetable for ruling on the injunction, nor did he indicate which way he might be leaning, saying only that any legal decision would be imperfect. He said he would first rule on damages owed by Research in Motion stemming from a jury verdict in 2002 that found that it had infringed on NTP’s patents.

This came on the same day that Research in Motion said that it had received a final rejection notice from the United States Patent and Trademark Office covering one more of the NTP patents at the center of the case. That decision, the company said, means all three NTP patents that are still related to the lawsuit have been found invalid.

NTP plans to appeal its findings to the Patent Office Board of Appeals. If the company disagrees with that body’s finding, it can take the issue to the federal court. The appeal process could continue for months, if not years. NTP asked the court for $126 million in damages and an immediate injunction on existing users, with the exception of government and emergency personnel (nearing 200,000 users), as well as a halt to new sales and service.

In the event of an injunction (in which there are many alternatives), Research in Motion has a workaround solution that would require close to two million hours to carry out. Sounds like NTP may have waited too long to drop the ball on RIM. More news as it comes.

Check out our coverage of RIM and Blackberry.

Read [NY Times]

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