The maker of the BlackBerry yesterday suffered a setback in a patent dispute that could shut down the hugely popular wireless email service in the United States.
The US supreme court refused to hear an appeal from Research in Motion over a lower court ruling that said it was infringing patents of Virginia-based NTP. The case dates back to 2002, when NTP successfully sued RIM. It won an injunction a year later to halt US sales of the BlackBerry and to shut down the service, although the ruling was stayed pending appeal.
Some 70% of RIM’s revenue comes from the US and the business closure would be a blow. It would be just as shocking to the millions of users of the hand-held devices.
The appeals court scaled back the initial ruling but still said RIM had infringed on NTP patents. The two sides reached a $450m settlement in March, but the deal fell apart three months later. RIM has asked the appeals court to enforce the deal. NTP has asked the court to press ahead with a permanent injunction, royalty payments and $126m in damages.