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Archive for Saturday, February 25, 2006

BlackBerry hearing ends without ruling

February 25, 2006

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BlackBerry owners will have to wait longer to learn the fate of their wireless e-mail devices: A federal judge ended a hearing Friday without making a ruling on an injunction request.

NTP Inc., a small patent-holding firm that successfully sued RIM for patent infringement, has asked U.S. District Judge James Spencer to impose an injunction on the service with a 30-day grace period for the parties to work out the details.

The company also asked that the judge immediately enjoin sales of new BlackBerry devices and award it an initial $126 million in damages. RIM has deposited at least $250 million in escrow, and NTP says that pot of money should be reserved just in case newer BlackBerry models infringe on its patents.

Although analysts say an actual BlackBerry blackout is unlikely, the uncertainties in this case have rattled everyone from hospital administrators to the Justice Department. There are more than 3 million BlackBerry users in the United States, many of whom rely on the devices for daily communications.

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