Patent dispute looms over BlackBerry

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) could see its US network shut down or face an expensive settlement, with Virginia-based patent holding company NTP set to file for an injunction in a US district court at the end of February.

NTP, represented by local IP boutique Antonelli Terry Stout & Kraus, has stepped up its threats to close the network used in the US for BlackBerry’s email system after the US Supreme Court rejected RIM’s appeal to review a key patent infringement ruling against the BlackBerry maker.

NTP is suing RIM for alleged patent infringements and has proposed that US courts give customers a 30-day cut-off period before closing RIM’s US network.

Antonelli is expected to seek an injunction in the district court on 24 February. The action has been led by partner Donald Stout, who is also a founding shareholder in NTP.

Stout claimed that NTP had been willing to talk about a settlement from the beginning.

“We’re surprised that this matter hasn’t reached settlement,” he said. “I know what I’d do if I were [RIM].”

RIM’s legal defence team consists of Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, Howrey, McGuire-Woods, McKenna Long & Aldridge, Shaw Pittman Potts & Trowbridge, and Williams Mullen.

The recent high court ruling was the latest in a series of setbacks for RIM, which also had a request to stay a lower court’s ruling while the Supreme Court considered the company’s appeal denied in October 2005.

Lawyers for RIM, which is based in Canada, argued before the high court that US patent law should not apply to Canadian companies.

NTP tabled a settlement proposal for RIM late last year, which was rejected.

The company then put forward a £265m settlement proposal, which was rejected by the court as unenforceable.

RIM did not return The Lawyer’s calls. Howrey declined to comment.