BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. was pushed closer to a possible shutdown of its popular U.S. mobile e-mail service after a judge refused to delay a patent infringement case.
U.S. District Judge James Spencer Wednesday ruled invalid a $450 million settlement between RIM and NTP Inc., a small patent holding firm of McLean, Va., that maintains the technology behind the popular BlackBerry infringes on its patents.
Spencers decisions raise more uncertainties for BlackBerry users in the United States, where most of the companys 3.65 million customers are based. The judge could next consider re-issuing an injunction that threatens to shut down BlackBerry service in this country. Spencer granted an injunction in 2003 after the patent-holding company successfully sued RIM in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia, but the ruling was stayed pending appeal.