Supreme Court won't intervene in BlackBerry suit

The Supreme Court has denied a petition to review a lower court's ruling that the developer of the BlackBerry handheld device infringed on several patents from a small licensing firm.

The decision, announced today, means that a separate proceeding before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., to determine whether BlackBerry devices and the wireless network should be shut down will move forward.

A BlackBerry shutdown is possible because of the pending patent infringement lawsuit against Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) of Waterloo, Ontario, filed by patent license firm NTP Inc. of Arlington, Va. NTP has argued that RIM infringed on several of its patents when it started marketing the handheld wireless e-mail devices a few years ago.

RIM asked the high court to intervene in the case, claiming that a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in August left open for interpretation whether NTP's patents apply to Internet technology housed outside the United States.

If the 4th Circuit imposes an injunction against BlackBerry usage, federal, state and local government users would be exempt, although parties on both sides disagree on the ease and feasibility of such an effort.

Rob Thormeyer is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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