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RIM awaits key court ruling

A judge is expected to decide shortly whether Research In Motion must stop selling its products in the United States.

A legal ruling is expected shortly that could decide whether Research In Motion can continue to sell its products in the United States, according to an attorney in the case.

In late 2002, a jury found the Canadian wireless messaging developer guilty of infringing patents owned by holding company NTP and ordered it to pay $23 million in damages, a verdict that RIM has appealed. In the meantime, NTP asked for an injunction that could indefinitely lock the maker of the BlackBerry wireless device out of the United States, one of its biggest markets.

The decision could "come down at any time," said John Wyss, a partner with the law firm Wiley Rein & Fielding who represents NTP.

RIM declined to comment.

NTP filed suit in federal court in Richmond, Va., in late 2001, claiming that RIM infringed on its patents that cover the use of radio frequency wireless communications in electronic mail systems. RIM's BlackBerry service, software and devices allow individuals to wirelessly send and receive information such as e-mail and company data on handheld devices.

The NTP suit is one of a handful of legal battles involving RIM. In November, the company settled a suit against handheld maker Handspring over RIM's keyboard patent. In February of last year, RIM settled an earlier suit against pager company Glenayre Technologies.

The handheld device maker is also embroiled in a series of lawsuits with start-up Good Technology. RIM's latest request for injunctive relief against Good was thrown out by a California judge in April.