BlackBerry Shutdown Decision Put on Hold

U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer said he will rule later as to whether BlackBerry mobile e-mail service should be shut down in the United States, after a much-anticipated hearing this morning.

Spencer chastised both sides for failing to settle their dispute in the patent-infringement case. NTP Inc. claims BlackBerry creator Research In Motion Ltd. has infringed on its patents for technology at the heart of the BlackBerry and today asked for $126 million in damages in addition to royalties.

Despite the delay, Spencer is expected to issue the injunction to shut down the service except for government and emergency workers until the case is resolved.

RIM has argued against the injunction, noting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office might reject NTP’s patents. The agency this week rejected the first of five patents closely tied to the court case and issued non-final rejections on the others.

Even so, RIM recently lost a patent infringement suit to NTP Inc. An August 2005 appeals court ruling struck down part of a jury’s original findings against RIM, but left standing several patent infringement rulings in place.

Some market-watchers say if a shutdown is mandated, the Canadian RIM will settle at the last minute; RIM receives 70 percent of its revenue from U.S. operations. According to Bloomberg News, a RIM lawyer said in today’s hearing that a workaround to deal with a shutdown would take 2 million man-hours to implement.

There is no word as to when the judge will make his ruling.

Research in Motion Ltd.


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