BlackBerry Service Safe -- For Now

UPDATED A U.S. District judge chastised both RIM and NTP for not settling out of court, but refused to order an immediate shutdown of the BlackBerry service. The ruling, while good news for RIM, does not mean the service would necessarily avoid being shut down at a later time.

Judge James Spencer took time after hearing nearly four hours of arguments to remind RIM that it had already been found guilty of patent infringement, and told the company "the simple truth, the reality of the jury verdict has not changed."

Spencer also said that he doubted a BlackBerry shutdown could disrupt public services, noting the company had already found a way to workaround the problem. The judge's decision is not final, however, as he promised both sides that he would consider the arguments and rule "as soon as reasonably possible."

Earlier in the day, NTP had asked the court for an immediate injunction with a 30-day grace period for BlackBerry users to find other solutions. The patent holding company also asked the judge to order an immediate payment of $126 million from RIM.

The figure was calculated using the same formula the 2003 jury used in awarding $23 million in damages to NTP, updated to extend through November.

A possible BlackBerry shutdown has even worried the U.S. government, which expressed concern in November that it could adversely effect day-to-day operations. NTP has said that any halt to BlackBerry service would only apply to non-government users. However, lawyers for the U.S. Government wanted more than just a promise to ensure e-mails continue to flow.

As of press time, neither NTP nor RIM had issued public statements regarding the judge's response.

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