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This week in wireless

Supreme Court rejects RIM petition to review ruling that could lead to shutdown of most U.S. BlackBerry sales, service.

The prospect of a widescale shutdown of the BlackBerry mobile e-mail service is closer to becoming reality, as the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request to review a patent ruling against Research In Motion.

The court rejected a petition by RIM to review a federal appeals court ruling that could lead to a shutdown of most U.S. BlackBerry sales and service.

NTP filed a patent infringement lawsuit against RIM in 2001. The company won the case, and in 2003, U.S. District Judge James Spencer granted an injunction against RIM to halt U.S. sales of the BlackBerry device and its service. Spencer stayed the injunction, pending RIM's appeals. Last August, an appeals court upheld the patent infringement claims but scaled back the ruling against RIM.

A hearing on a possible injunction shutting down most U.S. sales and service of the BlackBerry e-mail device has been scheduled for Feb. 24.

Should NTP prevail in its patent infringement case against RIM, it will force a shutdown of the BlackBerry wireless e-mail system. Consumers and companies addicted to their "CrackBerrys" would have to go cold turkey off their wireless e-mail or invest time and money in a new provider.

Numerous legal analysts believe that RIM won't risk the customer and investor wrath that could accompany the loss of BlackBerry service in the United States. Many expect a settlement with NTP that gives RIM the right to continue selling devices and software in exchange for a hefty fee that will almost certainly top the $450 million settlement that was tentatively agreed to last March but later collapsed.

In another court, at least two companies accused of selling the billing records of T-Mobile cell phone customers over the Internet have been ordered to stop their practices.

A Superior Court judge in Washington state granted a temporary restraining order against Data Find Solutions, 1st Source Information Specialists, and related companies and individuals to force them to stop obtaining and selling T-Mobile customer information. The ruling was in response to a T-Mobile lawsuit against these companies and their owners Monday.

T-Mobile said Data Find Solutions and 1st Source Information Specialists ran or owned Web sites such as Locatecell.com and Celltolls.com, which have been selling phone records and billing information of T-Mobile customers.