RIM refused rehearing in BlackBerry case

No, says Court of Appeals

A US Federal Court of Appeals on Friday refused to rehear an appeal by RIM in respect of a dispute over the BlackBerry-maker's alleged infringements of patents relating to radio frequency wireless communications in email systems.

RIM had been hoping that a 12-judge panel would rehear the case, after an August ruling by three judges of the same court found that the Canadian company had violated seven of the patents under consideration.

The case will now return to the District Court for further arguments on the merits of some of the patent claims and a decision on whether to impose an injunction prohibiting RIM from selling the BlackBerry and any other products, software or services using the disputed technology, in the US.

RIM plans to ask the Supreme Court to review the case, according to reports, arguing that the “case raises significant national and international issues warranting further appellate review." In particular, says RIM, US patent law should not apply in this case because the controlling BlackBerry software is found on computers in Canada – beyond the jurisdiction of US courts.

Background

RIM was found guilty of patent infringement in November 2002, when a jury awarded holding company NTP Inc damages of $53.7m and imposed an injunction – which was then stayed pending an appeal.

The injunction was lifted by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington in August this year, after the court found that the BlackBerry did infringe on some of NTP’s patents, but that one of the lower court’s key definitions, relating to the term “originating processor," was too wide. The Court of Appeals therefore returned the case to the District Court for further arguments over the claims that may have been affected by the flawed definition.

RIM appealed, asking that the full Appeals Court re-consider the case, but the Appeals Court on Friday refused to take the case further. Separately, the US Patent and Trademark Office last week cast doubt on all of the patents involved in the dispute, issuing a preliminary rejection of a key patent in the case. The USPTO has now cast doubt on all eight of the patents relevant to the dispute.

RIM hopes that the USPTO rulings, which are independent of the litigation process, will boost its arguments before the District Court.

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