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Second final rejection issued for NTP patent

As pivotal BlackBerry hearing winds down, the second of five NTP patents gets a thumbs-down from the Patent Office.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Friday issued a second final rejection of an NTP-held patent at the heart of the long-running BlackBerry dispute.

The final notice, which can be appealed to both the Patent Office and the federal courts, comes on the same day that Research In Motion and NTP are in a much-anticipated hearing arguing over whether an injunction will be imposed on the sale and support of BlackBerry devices in the U.S. Two days ago, NTP received its first final notice on one of the five patents at issue in the case. RIM announced Friday's Patent Office decision in a press release, and a Patent Office representative confirmed the decision.

After failing to win its appeal of a 2002 jury verdict that found RIM's BlackBerry devices infringe on NTP's patents, RIM is hoping that Judge James Spencer decides to steer clear of an injunction until the patent re-examination process is complete. Three other patents at issue in the case have only received preliminary notices that would invalidate the claims, but the final notices for those patents are expected shortly, according to RIM.

However, Spencer has already denied a request from RIM to delay the proceedings pending the re-examination process. Since then, the Patent Office has agreed to expedite its process of issuing the final rejections, but the appeals process could still take months or even years to complete.

Friday's hearing in Richmond, Va., was expected to end around 10 a.m. PT, but it's unclear whether Spencer is prepared to rule on the injunction and the amount of damages due as early as Friday.

NTP's lawyers Friday asked Spencer to award it $126 million in damages related to the infringement of its patents.

RIM stock was up $2.27, or 3.26 percent, to trade at $71.80 in midday trading on the Nasdaq.