DOJ: Wait on BlackBerry Shutdown

On Wednesday, the battle over patents for Research In Motion’s (RIM) popular BlackBerry handheld got even more interesting.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) stepped in to request that a federal judge hold off on a shut down of RIM’s U.S. sales and service until it is more confident that government BlackBerry users will be exempted, Reuters reports.

"We believe that there are still a number of serious questions to be answered as to how an injunction can be implemented so as to continue BlackBerry service for governmental and other excepted groups," read a legal brief submitted to the court by the DOJ.

NTP has not proven that government employees could be exempted from the shutdown "without substantial hardship."

The Justice Department’s intervention wasn’t the only development in RIM’s favor on Wednesday.  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.  Read Fifth and Last NTP Patent Rejected for more.

RIM, based in Ontario, is currently following up on the news from the PTO, while at the same time dealing with the NTP case.  The PTO challenge will likely take months to reach a conclusion, and a date for what could be the final ruling in the NTP suit is set for Feb. 24, when U.S. District Judge James Spencer will hear arguments to decide whether or not to order a BlackBerry shutdown.

RIM’s shares closed up 9 percent, at $73.61, on Nasdaq, following the PTO’s announcement, and after the DOJ’s filing, the price jumped up another 1.9 percent, to $75 a share, on Inet in afterhours trading, Reuters reports.

Read BlackBerry on the Edge for CIO’s continuing coverage.

-Al Sacco

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 secrets of successful remote IT teams