RIM Wins Fast-Track Patent Hearing in Britain


Research In Motion Ltd. won the right to fast-track a challenge to a U.K. patent to protect sales of its BlackBerry e-mail pager in Europe, a week after the company said a settlement of a similar claim in the U.S. may be unraveling. The company is trying to fend off a German lawsuit against T- Mobile International AG, the mobile-phone unit of Deutsche Telekom AG. It wants the High Court in London to invalidate the British version of the patent, in a bid to stall proceedings in Germany, Research In Motion lawyers said today in a preliminary hearing.

Justice Hugh Laddie today granted the company’s request to hear the case before the end of the year, citing the “serious effect” the infringement claim may have on BlackBerry sales.

The German claim, filed in December by Luxembourg-based Inpro Licensing Sarl, may block sales of the device, Research In Motion’s lawyers said. T-Mobile in March said it aimed to sell about 500,000 BlackBerries and related products this year. Research In Motion on June 9 said a $450 million settlement with NTP Inc. has hit a snag, which may halt sales of the devices in the U.S.

“The threat of an injunction causes Research In Motion’s customers great concern,” David Kitchen QC, a lawyer for the company, told the court. “Our customers are likely to consider how to minimize their legal risks by adopting alternative technologies.”

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