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RIM 'close' to revealing injunction-busting technology

US PTO rushes to final judgement on NTP patents

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Research in Motion (RIM) has said it is "pretty close" to being able to spill the beans on the technology it believes will allow it to stay operational should its legal antagonist, NTP, persuade the US District Court to shut down the patent-infringing service.

So said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie in an interview with the Reuters news agency, though he's presumably hoping such a course won't prove necessary: the US Patent and Trademark Office this weekend said it would try to speed a formal decision on the validity of the NTP intellectual property at the heart of the RIM battle.

RIM was last week challenged by market watcher Gartner Group to disclose its solution for side-stepping NTP's patents, which RIM was ruled to have infringed by the district-level and appeals courts. Gartner warned businesses to hold back on BlackBerry deployments until RIM clarifies the situation.

RIM's response has been to field Balsillie for regular interviews with the likes of Reuters and Associated Press, to continue to put a positive spin on the case. His latest comments come not only after the US PTO's pledge to conclude its review of NTP's patents with "special dispatch" - it's clearly under pressure from BlackBerry-using government agencies unwilling to be deprived of their email - but also as Judge James Spencer of the US District Court for Eastern Virginia told NTP and RIM to file briefs by 1 February. NTP is expected to ask the Judge for an injunction against RIM that would prevent the Canadian company from offering its service in the US.

At which point, presumably, RIM will reveal a solution that it hopes will allow it to continue working there - provided, of course, Judge Spencer can be convinced that it doesn't infringe on NTP's patents.

The US PTO has already said it believes the relevant patents are invalid, but it has yet to annul them formally. Until it does, they stand, and RIM is in infringement. ®

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