The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a ruling today in an ongoing patent litigation battle which threatens US sales of Research In Motion's popular BlackBerry mobile email devices.
The legal fight with NTP centres on RIM's alleged misappropriation of NTP's intellectual property.
RIM had petitioned the Federal Circuit for a rehearing of previous rulings, where some NTP claims were accepted.
At a trial in the District Court in 2002, NTP successfully asserted 16 claims of five patents against RIM. In its ruling today, the three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit effectively reversed the District Court's ruling of infringement on six of the 16 claims, and found that RIM does not infringe in those six claims.
RIM said that, consistent with its prior ruling, the Federal Circuit also vacated the District Court's finding of infringement of an additional three of the 16 patent claims because the District Court erred in construing their scope, and remanded to the District Court for further proceedings based on the new claim construction.
"Infringement of the remaining seven claims of the NTP patents was affirmed in today's ruling," RIM stated today.
"However, two of those claims have already been rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office in its initial rulings in re-examination proceedings, and the other five claims (relating to a single patent) remain the subject of an ongoing director-initiated reexamination proceeding, in which an initial ruling is expected soon."
If the patent dispute returns to the District Court on remand proceedings, RIM said it expects that NTP will ask the court to enter an injunction similar to the one previously granted (and subsequently vacated by the new Federal Circuit decision) that could prohibit it from "providing BlackBerry services and from using, selling, manufacturing or importing its handhelds and software in the US".
"While RIM maintains that an injunction is inappropriate given the facts of the case and recent doubts raised as to the validity of the patents in question, it ultimately will be up to the court to decide these matters and there can be no assurance of a favorable outcome of any litigation," the Canadian firm stated.
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