A U.S. appeals court scaled back a December ruling on Tuesday that had upheld patent infringement charges against Research In Motion Ltd. , the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry wireless e-mail device. Shares of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company moved higher following the news, amid hopes the decision could stretch out legal proceedings and delay a potential court injunction that would halt U.S. BlackBerry sales.
But RIM’s opponent in the case, U.S. patent holding company NTP, said it believes its case remains strong and that it still intends to pursue an injunction. NTP successfully sued RIM in 2002 for patent infringement and later won an injunction, stayed pending appeal, to halt U.S. sales of RIM’s popular BlackBerry. In the latest decision, the court reversed some additional infringement findings made by a lower court against RIM and again sent it back to a lower court for further review.
The appeals court overturned the lower court’s finding that RIM had infringed NTP Inc.’s “method” patents, but reaffirmed the infringement of patents of the e-mail “system.” NTP lawyer James Wallace said the appeals court decision had struck down the most “controversial” infringement claims in the case but still left NTP with plenty of grounds to prevail. “All we need is just one claim to shut them down,” Wallace said.
By removing the controversial “method” claims, Wallace said, the decision will make it more difficult for RIM to build a case for any further appeals.
A spokeswoman for RIM said the company had no immediate comment.
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