BlackBerry Battle: RIM/NTP Patent Case Takes New Turn

BlackBerry-maker RIM could soon find itself under new legal pressure. Lawyers for NTP, the company with which RIM settled a high-profile patent dispute for more than $600 million in 2006, are reportedly seeking more information regarding how a pact between the BlackBerry-maker and the U.S. Justice Department affected the case.

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Mon, September 28, 2009
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However, NTP attorneys didn't find out about that agreement until the spring of 2006, when the case was settled, Law.com says. Now NTP says that it wants more details about the agreement.

From the Law.com post:

"Hundreds of e-mails and other communications between RIM and the government -- what [NTP] lawyers describe as an "intense lobbying" campaign by RIM -- are the centerpiece of the records dispute."

Today, Justice Department officials are refusing to make said communications available to NTP lawyers, saying that the department needs to honor and protect past confidences with companies with which it enters into common-interest agreements.

Currently there are no regulations or set rules for common-interest agreements at the Department of Justice, according to Law.com, but "supervisor'" approval is typically required.

Though such a common-interest agreement is perfectly legal, the NTP lawyers are pursuing more information regarding it as a possible avenue for pursuing the case further.

It remains to be seen what exactly will come of NTP's new FOIA suit, but anyone who remembers what it was like to consider life without BlackBerry service will want to keep a close eye on this one. NTP benefitted from the settlement of the patent lawsuit with RIM in 2006. But if the court grants the FOIA request, and more details regarding the Justice deal emerge, new legal rules around common-interest agreements could be forged and RIM even could face new legal pressure related to this case.

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