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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 10:43 GMT
Patent worries fail to dent RIM
Three people using Blackberry mobile device
Experts fear the legal row could subdue Blackberry sales in the US
Blackberry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) has unveiled better than expected profits - easing some fears that a patent row is damaging the business.

Third quarter profits rose to $120.1m (69m; 101.5 euros) from $90.4m at the same time last year.

Revenues increased 53% to $560.5m while user numbers rose by 645,000 - pushing its total customer base up to 4.3 million, more than double that of 2004.

The news despite a legal dispute with NTP technology concerning its software.

"In spite of all this noise, customers are still definitely buying in North America, and they're really, really buying internationally," co chief executive Jim Balsillie told Reuters.

In the court case, US-based NTP Software alleges that the technology behind Blackberry devices infringes on its own patents.

Subscriber worries

Experts had voiced concerns that uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the case could result in lower customer numbers.

The impact of this (patent row) has been to create some uncertainty among customers
Dennis Kavelman, RIM

Prospective subscribers could be turned away from the technology by fears that RIM may be issued with an injunction that would shut down its Blackberry service should NTP win the case.

But while RIM is continuing to sign up new customers, the firm did lower its forecasts for subscriber numbers for the second time in two months.

The group said it now expects to add a further 700,000-750,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter. Originally it had expected to sign up 775,000-825,000 new users.

Finance chief Dennis Kavelman conceded that publicity surrounding the patent row had had an effect.

"The impact of this has been to create some uncertainty among customers," he said.

"The timing of any resolution and the removal of this uncertainty is difficult to predict, therefore taking into these factors we believe it is prudent to lower the range."

RIM closed 32 cents lower at $61.76 on the Nasdaq ahead of the release of its results.

However, its shares surged almost 6% to $65.40 in after hours trade following the announcement.

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