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New snarl in NTP suit against RIM

Little-known company has come forward claiming rights to patents at the center of NTP's high-stakes suit against Research In Motion.

A little-known company has renewed its claims to patents at the center of NTP's high-stakes case against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.

In a complaint filed late last year in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division, Computer Leasco charged that NTP and some of its former employees devised a fraudulent scheme to gain possession of the patents.

Computer Leasco, a Michigan-based wireless-equipment company, based its claims on a 1990 ruling that granted the company title to the assets of Telefind, a former employer of NTP co-founder Thomas Campana.

NTP intervened in the Telefind suit, however, and the judge awarded six patents--related to electronic mail interface with radio communication--to the company and Campana.

Computer Leasco appealed that decision and lost. Now the company is reviving its claim with a sworn affidavit from former Telefind employee Ted Andros, brother of former Telefind President Andrew Andros. Ted Andros told Computer Leasco President Ferris J. Haddad of a conspiracy to mislead the court into believing NTP and Campana owned the patents instead of Telefind. Andrew Andros and Campana are deceased.

Computer Leasco seeks rights to NTP's wireless technology patents and damages. The case could impact the ongoing litigation between NTP and RIM, which could result in awards well over $100 million.

Attorneys for Computer Leasco did not immediately return calls for comment. NTP attorneys said they were aware of the complaint but declined to comment for this story.