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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 16:03 GMT
Court blow for Blackberry maker
Three people using Blackberry mobile device
The row between RIM and NTP stretches back to 2002
Blackberry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) has suffered a court setback in a long-running patent row that could lead to it shutting down its US operations.

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear the Canadian-based group's appeal against a patent infringement ruling.

The original ruling found that RIM infringed on patents held by NTP, a small technology firm from Virginia.

RIM now faces a possible injunction which could block the use of the handheld wireless device in the US.

The case dates back to 2002, when patent holding company NTP successfully sued RIM in a lower court and won an injunction in 2003 to halt US sales of the Blackberry and shut down its service.

However, that ruling was delayed pending appeal.

Though the appeals court scaled back the initial ruling, it still ruled that RIM had infringed on NTP patents.

Shares dip

The two parties later reached a tentative $450m settlement on the dispute in March last year, but the deal fell apart in June and a court later ruled that the agreement was not valid.

RIM still wants the agreement enforced.

In the latest appeal, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether US patent laws were out of date in the age of the internet and global communication.

A panel of judges was asked to consider how US law applied to technology used in a foreign country had allegedly infringed on the intellectual property rights of a patent-holder in the US, in this case NTP.

They were asked to decide whether RIM was liable for patent infringement when its main relay station for e-mail and data transmission was located outside US borders.

The lower court had said it did not matter where the relay station was located. The

Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.

Shares in RIM fell over 3% in value after the ruling.

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