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Judge rejects US govt Blackberry ban immunity request

DoJ unconvinced by RIM's contingency plan?

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RIM vs NTP trial judge James Spencer has denied a US Department of Justice demand that all the parties concerned work out a way to ensure DoJ staffers can continue to use their Blackberries even if the judge orders the service to be shut down.

The request, reported by Reuters, speaks volumes not only about RIM customers' fears regarding the possible shutdown (which is due to be debated in court this coming Friday, February 24), but also that RIM's attempts to calm such fears by announcing a workaround solution aren't proving as successful as it hoped.

RIM said earlier this month it would offer a software update that will allow it to switch upgraded Blackberry servers and devices to an alternative push email system that doesn't infringe NTP's patents, as both district and appeals court verdicts have ruled the current system does. RIM's pitch is that users can upgrade ahead of time, which will ensure they get continuity of service no matter what the court rules.

RIM has yet to post its so-called 'multi-mode' software. It's clearly not an ideal solution, or RIM would have released it by now. That it hasn't suggests it would rather not ship the update at all, if only to spare its customers the upgrade process, and is waiting until it gets a clearer idea about how Friday's hearing will go. The snag with such an approach is that RIM runs the risk of shipping too late to give users the opportunity to update their systems ahead of time and be covered against any potential injunction.

If Judge Spencer does impose a ban, RIM will be hoping it has plenty of time before the injunction takes effect for it to ship the update and for its users to install it. ®

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