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BlackBerry Patent Battle Ends with $612.5 Million Settlement

Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry e-mail device, Friday announced it has settled its long-running patent dispute with a small Virginia-based firm, averting a possible court-ordered shutdown of the BlackBerry system.

RIM has paid NTP $612.5 million in a "full and final settlement of all claims," the companies said.

The settlement ends a period of anxiety for BlackBerry users. 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 BlackBerry's wireless e-mail service.

At the hearing, 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.

RIM, which is based in Waterloo, Ontario, had already put away $450 million in escrow, the amount of a settlement in 2004 that later fell apart. RIM will record the additional $162.5 million in its fourth-quarter results, it said.

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