Research In Motion Ltd. says its BlackBerry e-mail device is such a vital part of the “critical infrastructure” in the U.S., including Wall Street, that a court shouldn’t shut down the service. The argument, part of court papers filed yesterday, is one of several the Waterloo, Canada-based company is making to persuade a judge to not issue an order that would shut down U.S. BlackBerry service. An appeals court last year upheld a finding that the service infringed patents owned by NTP Inc.
Research In Motion said BlackBerry is a key component to the U.S. “economic security” and is part of its emergency and disaster planning. A shutdown would interrupt service to about 2 million customers in the U.S., where the device is heavily used on Wall Street and by members of Congress.
“I like RIM’s argument that the country depends on commerce and depends on people being able to use these devices,” said Scott Creasman, a patent lawyer at Powell Goldstein in Atlanta. The judge should look at “the harm to the public versus any harm to NTP, which is strictly monetary.”
U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer in Richmond, Virginia, who presided over the November 2002 patent trial that Research In Motion lost, hasn’t scheduled a hearing date on the issue of whether to shut down the BlackBerry service and how much Research In Motion should pay. The filings yesterday by Research In Motion and NTP are the first arguments on the issues.
“It would be extraordinarily impractical, if not impossible, to devise and administer an injunction that would protect government and private sector BlackBerry users who would be, or should be, excluded from an injunction,” the company said.