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Judge delays decision on BlackBerry cutoff

February 24, 2006

By Peter Kaplan and John Crawley

RICHMOND, Virginia (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday
stopped short of ordering an immediate shutdown of millions of
BlackBerry portable e-mail devices, but reminded manufacturer
Research In Motion Ltd. it had already been found to have
infringed the patents of NTP Inc.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer also expressed skepticism
about RIM’s argument that a BlackBerry shutdown would hobble
critical public services and infrastructure.

He noted that the company had told investors that its
software work-around would avoid disruptions to users.

Wrapping up nearly four hours of arguments, Spencer said
there was no escaping that RIM had been found to be infringing
on NTP’s patents. “The simple truth, the reality of the jury
verdict has not changed,” Spencer said, adding that the parties
should have settled out of court.

Spencer said he would take the arguments he had heard under
advisement and issue a decision on an injunction “as soon as
reasonably possible.”

RIM shares soared on Spencer’s decision not to issue an
immediate cutoff of BlackBerry service. RIM stock rose as much
as 12.7 percent to $78.38 before trimming its gains to $74.78,
up 7.55 percent on Nasdaq.

Canada-based RIM has been locked in a court battle for more
than four years with privately held NTP, which successfully
sued RIM for infringing on its patents.

Earlier on Friday, NTP asked Spencer for an injunction
against U.S. BlackBerry service with a 30-day grace period for
users and the immediate imposition of $126 million in damages
for past infringement.

RIM and NTP reached a tentative settlement of $450 million
early last year, but the deal fell apart. Some analysts have
estimated that a settlement at this point could cost RIM as
much as $1 billion.

The small portable e-mail devices are used by over 3
million U.S. subscribers including government officials and
lawmakers.

Some users have complained about thumb injuries from their
almost addictive tapping of the tiny keyboards on their
so-called “CrackBerries” to send a steady stream of messages
during meetings and while traveling.


Source: reuters



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