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Saturday, March 04, 2006

BlackBerry Reaches Settlement in Dispute

(AP) NEW YORK - The maker of the BlackBerry e-mail device Friday said it settled its long-running patent dispute with a small Virginia-based firm, averting a possible court-ordered shutdown of the BlackBerry system and a disruption of wireless service for millions of users.

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM) has paid NTP Inc. $612.5 million in a "full and final settlement of all claims," the companies said.

James Balsillie, RIM's co-chief executive, said the company was "taking one for the team," sparing its customers and partners the uncertainty of litigation.

"We're happy to do that to support the team, but do we feel good about it? No," Balsillie said.

At a hearing last week, NTP had asked a federal court in Richmond, Va., for an injunction blocking the continued use of key technologies underpinning the BlackBerry wireless e-mail service.

At the hearing Friday, Judge James R. Spencer expressed impatience with RIM and urged a settlement.

"He basically questioned the sanity of RIM, and said it wasn't acting very rationally," said Rod Thompson, patent attorney at Farella, Braun and Martel in San Francisco. "His prodding of the parties worked."

The settlement is on the low end of expectations, Thompson said, especially since RIM will not have to pay any future royalties. There had also been talk of NTP receiving a stake in RIM.

Shares of RIM shot up $13.78, or 19 percent, to $85.70 during after-hours trading, when the settlement was announced. They had closed 53 cents higher at $71.92 in regular trading Friday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.


WAHOOOOOO!

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