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NTP, RIM spar over proposed tech licence

US Patent Office issues rejection notice

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NTP today accused Research in Motion (RIM) of misleading customers and carriers by claiming it has not proposed a licensing agreement the two companies could sign that protects mobile phone networks from future legal action.

"RIM's public assertions that NTP has not proposed a licence that protects its carriers is both disingenuous and intentionally misleading," NTP said in a statement today. "NTP has offered and continues to offer RIM a licence that fully protects everyone - RIM's customers, carriers and partners."

As evidence, the company pointed to a 17 January filing with the US District Court for Eastern Virginia. The language is typical legalese, but it indeed appears to waive NTP's right to sue "wireless carriers and internet service providers" for providing RIM's Blackberry service prior to the date on which the agreement becomes effective, should it ever happen.

The licence, if accepted by RIM, would allow it the right to use technology over which NTP claims ownership and RIM has been found to have used without permission. RIM said this past Friday that the US Patent and Trademark Office had now issued a Final Office Action notice stating that the last of three patents at the heart of the dispute between NTP and RIM had been "rejected" by the organisation's re-examiners.

NTP may appeal against the ruling, which is not a formal invalidation of the intellectual property. Meanwhile, NTP said it "remains open to hearing any specific issues RIM has with our proposed agreements". ®

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