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Lawsuits In Motion files suit against Xerox

Seeks protection from patent infringement claims

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Research In Motion (RIM) has filed a "defensive" lawsuit against Xerox just in case the two companies' negotiations over whether RIM's Blackberry product infringes Xerox-held patents break down.

The lawsuit, filed in 17 July with the US District Court of Hartford, Connecticut, details the discussions between the two companies to date. Xerox apparently contacted RIM almost a year ago and claimed that the handheld maker had violated two patents, says a Bloomberg report.

Since then RIM has tried to persuade Xerox that no such infringement has taken place. Xerox, it seems, isn't having any of it and is persisting "in its claim of patent infringement", the suit alleges. Talks are therefore effectively stalled.

The suit also asks that Xerox's claim be ruled to be without merit, either because RIM doesn't infringe the patents or that the patents are invalid. It also asks that Xerox be prevented from attempting to block sales of the Blackberry and from demanding royalties from RIM.

The suit was filed "to resolve the apprehension under which RIM is forced to conduct its business" in the US as a result of the Xerox's allegations, it said.

Of course, it's all rather ironic given RIM's history of using the courts to challenge what it claims are other firms' attempts to cash in on its intellectual property. During the first quarter of its current fiscal year, the company - better known, perhaps, as Lawsuits In Motion - saw the cost of its litigation rise from $700,000 to $8.2 million.

RIM is currently suing NTP and Good Technology for alleged intellectual property violations. Last year, it pursued legal action against Palm and Handspring - both firms latter settled out of court. Microsoft and Symbian signed have signed licensing deals with the company.

If it loses the NTP case, RIM could find itself having to cough up as much as $58.8 million in legal fees and compensation. ®

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