BlackBerry settles US patent battle with $600m deal

BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) finally bowed to NTP’s demands, striking a $612.5 million licensing deal with the Virginia-based patent holders.

NTP had sued RIM for patent infringement, and threatened to close the BlackBerry network if RIM did not settle. Judge James Spencer, of the Eastern District of Virginia, held the final hearing on 24 February.

Based in Canada, RIM argued that US patent law should not apply to the case and that the BlackBerry device was too valuable to the US economy to be shut down. RIM has around 3 million customers in the US.

NTP co-founder Don Stout said in a statement: “We believe that the settlement is in the best interests of all parties, including the US Government and all other BlackBerry users in the United States.”

Judge Spencer first banned the BlackBerry service in 2003 but subsequent appeals by RIM froze the injunction.

A $450 million settlement fell through last summer, and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit handed the case back to the Eastern District Court of Virginia in October.

Stout is a partner at IP-boutique Antonelli Terry Stout & Kraus and led NTP’s legal team of Wiley Rein & Fielding and Hunton & Williams.

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

Lawyers for RIM and NTP did not return calls before going to press.

In February RIM fought off a similar case in the UK and Germany against
Luxembourg-based Inpro, whose patent was invalidated by the Courts.