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Supremes shun RIM - again

No review of NTP appeal court win

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The US Supreme Court has rejected Research in Motion's latest request that it weigh in on the Blackberry maker's battle with US intellectual property holding company NTP.

The Court this week said it would not review the US Court of Appeals' August 2005 verdict that RIM had indeed infringed NTP's patents and which sent the case back to the District Court where RIM now faces the prospect of being told to stop offering its service to US users.

Last year, RIM asked the Supreme Court to stay the Court of Appeals' verdict, but the Supremes announced in October 2005 that they wouldn't do so. RIM tried again in December, this time pitching the matter as a vital clarification of the geographical reach of US patent law. It even persuaded new buddy Intel to file a request on its behalf.

RIM's argument is an old one: it's system is based outside the US, so it can't be held to be liable in the US. Only it can, the Supreme Court's decision implicitly states, since the service is being offered to US businesses and consumers.

In its District Court fight, RIM recently told the presiding judge, Judge James R. Spencer, its service to too important to shut down, the implication being that the US will suffer economic ruination if Wall Street traders lose their crackberries. Heck, they'd have to talk to their clients then...

Where now for RIM? If Judge Spencer isn't convinced that Blackberry is a crucial to the maintenance of Western Civilisation as all that, RIM has its patent-sidestepping technology to roll out. Users aren't likely to be happy with all the necessary software update work, but RIM will be hoping they prefer that to the cost of moving to a third-party, non-infringeing service, or having no service at all. ®

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