Research In Motion Ltd. has filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court in a final attempt to freeze proceedings in its patent dispute with NTP Inc. while it continues to argue U.S. patent laws don’t apply because the company operates in Canada. Research In Motion, plans to file a regular appeal with the Supreme Court and meanwhile wants to forestall any chance a lower court could issue an injunction against it before its appeals are exhausted.
At issue in the patent dispute is technology used in the popular BlackBerry wireless email device Research In Motion makes. The patent lawsuit ultimately could disrupt the company’s BlackBerry business.
NTP, a Virginia patent-holding company, sued Research In Motion in 2001, saying the company had violated several of its patents with the BlackBerry product. A trial in Virginia U.S. District Court resulted in a jury verdict against Research In Motion over five patents in 2003. Research In Motion has lost a series of appeals filed with the Washington-based Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles patent cases.
Research In Motion, in the emergency appeal, said its business would be “irreparably harmed” if a lower court is free to issue an injunction before the Supreme Court reviews its appeal. “Research In Motion would suffer substantial revenue and profit losses,” lawyers for the company said in the appeal.
The emergency petition is being reviewed by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who handles emergency matters from the Federal Circuit. The high court could rule on the matter at any time; it rarely grants emergency petitions.