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Update: RIM settles NTP patent fight with $612.5M payment

'It's about time,' says one BlackBerry user.

March 3, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Research In Motion Ltd. announced late today that it has agreed to pay $612.5 million to NTP Inc. to settle the long-running legal fight between the two companies.

The patent dispute had threatened to end RIM's popular BlackBerry e-mail service to millions of users in the U.S. and has been the subject of a contentious, four-year patent battle between the two companies.

BlackBerry users expressed relief the fight was finally over.

"We're delighted to hear of the settlement and that the matter is resolved," said Frank Gillman, who works at a law firm in Los Angeles and oversees more than 200 attorneys and other staff who rely heavily on the popular handhelds. "Those of us who rely on instant access to our corporate e-mail are breathing a huge sigh of relief -- our significant others, maybe not."

"It's about time," said Chris Barber, CIO at Western Corporate Federal Credit Union (WesCorp) in San Dimas, Calif. The company's 30 users "have all become addicted" to BlackBerries, and losing them would have been a "huge inconvenience," he said.

Under the terms of the settlement, which was announced late in the day, RIM will make a one-time payment to NTP. In return, NTP has granted RIM a license that enables RIM to continue its BlackBerry service.

“We are pleased to have reached an amicable settlement with RIM," said Donald E. Stout, NTP’s co-founder. "We believe that the settlement is in the best interests of all parties, including the U.S. government and all other BlackBerry users in the United States. NTP is pleased that the issue has been resolved and looks forward to enhancing its businesses.”

Government BlackBerry users had fretted that losing their service could cause them problems, so they had asked a federal judge last week to be exempt from any order to shut down the service.

According to NTP, the deal covers all current NTP patents involved in the litigation as well as future NTP patents. "All of RIM's past and future products, services and technologies will be covered as well as all RIM customers and providers of RIM products and services, including wireless carriers, distributors, suppliers and ISV partners," NTP said in a statement. "The agreement permits RIM and its partners to sell its products, services and infrastructure completely free and clear of any claim by NTP."

James Balsillie, RIM's president and co-CEO, said during a conference call late today that the settlement will completely put the matter behind the company. "The litigation has been dismissed by the court this afternoon," he said.

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