Will BlackBerry Service Go Away?

The embroiled RIM/NTP showdown continues to make headlines. Two big developments occurred this week on Wednesday. Here’s where everything stands right now:

On Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Justice submitted a brief to a federal judge to hold off on halting RIM’s U.S sales and service until the DOJ is more confident that government BlackBerry users will be exempted from the possible shutdown. This move to secure the continued use of all governmental and other essential BlackBerrys no matter the outcome of the RIM/NTP battle has drawn the criticism from many in the private sector who deem their BlackBerry use just as critical.

Earlier that afternoon, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) issued a non-final rejection of a fifth patent in the court battle between the company and NTP, siding with RIM. While this is considered a “win” for RIM, everyone should mark their digital calendars: February 24, 2006, still looms as the next momentous date in this battle. That’s when U.S. District Judge James Spencer will consider an injunction that could shut down all U.S. BlackBerry sales and service. (Whether this will turn out to be a huge day or just another day in court leading to another remains to be seen.)

Across the pond, RIM scored a legal victory on Thursday when the English High Court threw out all of the patent claims filed against RIM by a Luxembourg-based patent firm. Tally ho BlackBerry!

What’s interesting to remember is just how long legal entanglements such as these can last. For those keeping score at home, this standoff started way back in 2002. (Think of the lawyer fees alone.)

On the lighter side, The Onion newspaper has chimed in on the controversy. For some levity, check out The Onion infographic “BlackBerry Service Shutdown.” And our own blogger, Constantine von Hoffman’s BlackBerry, a lawyer’s best friend. 

Keep up with the latest BlackBerry developments at BlackBerry on the Edge.

 --Thomas Wailgum

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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