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Supreme Court Won’t Hear BlackBerry Appeal

January 23, 2006

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from the maker of the BlackBerry in the long-running battle over patents for the wildly popular, handheld wireless e-mail device.

The high court’s refusal to hear Canada-based Research In Motion Ltd.’s appeal means that a trial judge in Richmond, Va., could impose an injunction against the company and block BlackBerry use among many of its owners in the United States.

The justices had been asked to decide on whether U.S. patent law is technologically out of date in the age of the Internet and the global marketplace.

At issue was how U.S. law applies to technology that is used in a foreign country and allegedly infringes on the intellectual property rights of a patent-holder in the United States.

The justices were asked to decide whether Research In Motion can be held liable for patent infringement when its main relay station for e-mail and data transmission is located in Waterloo, Ontario, outside U.S. borders.

RIM was challenging a ruling by a federal appeals court that found that the company had infringed on the patents held by NTP Inc., a tiny northern Virginia patent-holding company, because its customers use the BlackBerry inside U.S. borders. The panel said it did not matter where the relay station is located.

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