A lawyer representing the maker of the BlackBerry e-mail device urged a federal appeals court to overturn a patent infringement verdict against the company.
The lawyer, representing Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), told the three-judge appeals panel that the BlackBerry device does not infringe the patents of U.S.-based patent holding company NTP, which last year won an injunction banning U.S. sales of RIM's BlackBerry e-mail device.
"That is not the BlackBerry system in any way, shape or form," RIM's lawyer, Henry Bunsow, told the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, referring to the technology covered by NTP's patents.
Mr. Bunsow said the NTP patents covered a device that was "old technology" that was more like "a pager that receives e-mail" than a BlackBerry. He also told the judges that U.S. patent law did not apply to some of the patents because a key RIM control center was located outside the U.S. Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM has also asked the appeals court to correct errors that it said occurred during the jury trial.
NTP's lawyer, James Wallace, responded that even though older technology cited by RIM was used in demonstrations when inventors applied for the patents, the patents extended beyond that.
Mr. Wallace told the judges that even although RIM has a Canadian facility, the BlackBerry system is still covered by U.S. patent laws because the right to use the system is sold in the U.S.
The legal battle between RIM and NTP stretches back to November 2001, when a group of Illinois-based inventors claimed that the BlackBerry infringed eight patents controlled by NTP. The patents cover the use of radio frequency wireless communications in e-mail systems.
In November 2002, a U.S. jury ordered RIM to pay U.S. $23.1 million to NTP for patent infringement. In August the following year, a federal court in Richmond, VA, U.S. went a step further, issuing an injunction banning BlackBerry sales and raising the damage figure by 50 percent.
The lower court stayed the injunction order pending an appeal, and damage funds are being held in escrow pending the outcome of the appeal. (Reuters)
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