A court decision on Friday renewed the possibility that service to BlackBerry wireless e-mail devices might be cut off for most users in the US.
The US Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington rejected a request by Research in Motion, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry, to rehear its appeal of a patent infringement case brought by NTP Inc, the patent holder. A three-judge panel of the court ruled in August that Research in Motion had violated seven of NTP's patents.
As part of that litigation, NTP, whose only assets are wireless e-mail related patents, had been granted an injunction banning the sale of BlackBerry devices in the US and forcing Research in Motion to stop providing e-mail services to all US customers except government account holders.
While the court declined Research in Motion's request for a complete rehearing by all 12 of its judges, it did order the panel of three judges to review some aspects of NTP's patent claims.
Kevin Anderson, a lawyer for NTP, said the company would now ask the court to apply the injunction to the patent claims that are no longer under review. Those patents, he added, are broad enough to prevent Research in Motion from continuing service in the US, which accounts for about 70 percent of its revenue.
"The case is pretty much over," Anderson said.
Friday afternoon, however, Research in Motion said it would request that the court hold off on any action while it asks the Supreme Court for a review, although it acknowledged that such reviews were "uncommon" in patent cases.