Say what you want about patent infringement suits, but at least the BlackBerry case has drama. Judge Spencer, clearly impatient with the long-running case, could issue an injunction soon on U.S. sales and service of the wireless e-mail device. James R. Spencer, a no-nonsense U.S. district judge widely respected in the legal community, now finds himself in the unusual position of weighing an injunction against RIM even as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is expected to finally rescind NTP’s patents.
“These patents are … guaranteed to go in the garbage,” James Balsillie, co-chief executive of Canada’s RIM, said in December. “At the end of the day, our position is real simple: Let the system work.”
Unfortunately for Balsillie, the system doesn’t necessarily work in a timely fashion. Spencer has signaled that he is unwilling to delay his proceedings while awaiting final word from the patent office, which lags far behind the court system. A case that could change the practice of granting injunctions in patent cases, eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, will be taken up by the Supreme Court, but no decision is expected until the spring at the earliest. Spencer, meanwhile, has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 24 on the injunction and damages.
“His bottom line is that he wants this case off his docket,” said Susan Dadio, a patent attorney in Alexandria, Va. “And if the two sides can’t reach a settlement or resolve this, he will not be afraid to act himself.”