Minor win for BlackBerry maker?

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion may have scored a minor victory its ongoing patent spat with holding company NTP.

In a six-line order filed on Tuesday afternoon and obtained by CNET News.com, U.S. District Judge James Spencer denied NTP's request to introduce new documents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Those documents, which reportedly attempted to show evidence of shady dealings with RIM, were filed just before the companies' much-anticipated hearing last week.

NTP did not respond to requests for a copy of its motion. Last week, however, the company released a lengthy statement that described several examples of what it called "irregularities" in the Patent Office's reexamination of disputed patents in the case.

RIM said in court documents last week that NTP hoped to introduce the eight pages of documents in order to conjure up "some notion of impropriety" on the part of the Patent Office.

The Patent Office has already issued the legal equivalent of rejections on three of the main patents at issue in the case. But those decisions are not entirely final, as all three can be appealed to the PTO and to federal circuit courts.

Still, Spencer indicated in court on Friday that nothing has changed factually since a jury found RIM guilty of patent infringement more than three years ago.

The judge continues to weigh the amount of damages RIM would have to pay to NTP, as well as the thornier issue of whether to issue an injunction on BlackBerry sales and service in the United States. He indicated he would likely decide on the damages ruling before the injunction one, but a timetable remains unknown.

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