The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday pushed the maker of the BlackBerry e-mail device a step closer to a possible shutdown of U.S. service, refusing to review a major patent infringement ruling against the company. The high court rejected without comment a petition by Research In Motion Ltd. to review a federal appeals court ruling, which upheld infringement charges by NTP Inc., a U.S. patent holding company.
NTP Inc. said the court rejection had “closed the final path for RIM to avoid liability” in the case and cleared the way for a lower court to issue an injunction that would bar most U.S. BlackBerry sales and service.
However, RIM downplayed the ruling, saying it had “no bearing on the merits of the outstanding issues” that are still pending before the Richmond, Virginia, trial judge in the case.
“RIM has consistently acknowledged that Supreme Court review is granted in only a small percentage of cases and we were not banking on Supreme Court review,” RIM’s vice president of corporate marketing Mark Guibert said in a statement.
RIM shares were trading down 2.2 percent at $65.15 in midday trading on Nasdaq, after initially falling as much as 5.66 percent immediately after the high court announcement.
Chief Justice John Roberts, on October 26, turned down a request by RIM to stay the lower court’s patent infringement ruling while the high court considered whether to hear a RIM appeal.
In seeking the appeal, RIM had questioned whether it should be subject to such a patent infringement ruling in U.S. courts in light of the fact that the company’s main e-mail switching facility was located outside the United States, in Canada.