The BlackBerry conundrum: Who gets on the ‘white list?’


As a U.S. federal judge deliberates on whether to order an injunction against BlackBerry wireless e-mail service and devices, he must weigh an ominous warning from Research In Motion Ltd. A shutdown will produce a “never-ending” stream of disputes between the company and its nemesis NTP Inc. over which subscribers should be exempt, RIM has warned.

U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer has made clear his desire to get the five-year-old patent infringement suit off his docket as soon as possible. The threat of an injunction was to have pushed the parties to an agreement long ago.

But now that the appeals process has run its course, the judge faces a series of nightmarish scenarios as he prepares his ruling.

Both sides agree that a shutdown will mean the creation of a “white list” and a “black list” of users, because U.S. law exempts the government from an injunction. But they disagree as to how feasible it is for RIM to distinguish between accounts.

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