BlackBerry users breathed a sigh of relief Friday after the device’s parent company, Research In Motion, settled a long-simmering patent dispute that threatened to black out the popular mobile e-mail service.
Research In Motion agreed to pay $612.5 million to NTP, a small Virginia intellectual properties firm, to settle all claims in the four-year legal saga. The agreement, which covers RIM and its carrier partners, averts a potential shutdown of the system that would have affected 3.2 million BlackBerry users in the United States.
The settlement comes a week after a federal judge urged the two sides to reach an agreement. U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer took testimony Feb. 24 on a possible injunction against RIM, which a jury found in 2002 to have violated NTP’s patent. In that hearing, Spencer ruled that RIM violated the patents, but held off issuing immediate penalties in an effort to get the parties to settle.