Legal issues continue for PDA maker

The legal battles never seem to cease for Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the Waterloo, Ont.-based manufacturer of BlackBerry handhelds. But, there may be a glimmer of hope for the PDA maker after a U.S. District Court granted the company’s request to stay an injunction, which originally ruled against RIM after a two-year patent duel with Virginia-based NTP Inc.

The injunction would prohibit RIM from selling BlackBerry wireless devices, as well as software and services to the United States.

NTP’s original lawsuit alleged that RIM infringed on NTP patents covering the use of radio frequency wireless communications in e-mail systems.

In November 2002, a U.S. court found RIM guilty of infringing on five NTP patents – a verdict the company is appealing.

If RIM loses the appeal, the company would be prevented from selling eight BlackBerry models in the U.S. until NTP’s patents expire, which could be as late as May 2012.

This month’s ruling is seen as a win for RIM, according to Henry Bunsow, RIM’s lead counsel and partner at Howrey Simon Arnold & While, LLP. RIM has disputed the validity and infringement of the NTP patents, Bunsow said in a statement, adding that the company continues to believe the November jury verdict was wrong as both a matter of law and fact.

The appeals process could take up to two more years to complete, during which time, RIM will be able to continue its U.S. BlackBerry distribution.