Updated from 1:11 p.m.
Investors nudged up
Research In Motion
stock after the wireless email shop got a favorable ruling on some patents at the center of a dispute with NTP.
Shares of the Waterloo, Ont., BlackBerry maker rose modestly Thursday after the U.S. Patent Office rejected two more claims by NTP. The agency has now rejected seven patent claims of the eight it is re-examining, RIM says. The patents involve the mobile email technology used by Research In Motion.
RIM has catapulted to a $14 billion market cap as investors cheer the growth potential for email on cell phones. But the legal battle has created a
significant amount of uncertainty over whether RIM has rights to the technology at the core of its very popular wireless messaging service.
The patent office has now rejected four of the five patent infringement claims NTP is suing RIM over. NTP plans to file a response to the rejection notice and expects to prevail in an appeal process.
NTP attorney Don Stout says the process has just started and he expects NTP's patent claims will "come out affirmed and valid."
The rejections are just the latest twist in a five-year intellectual property dispute between RIM and NTP, an Arlington, Va., patent holding company.
Earlier this year, RIM offered to pay NTP $450 million to resolve the claims and make NTP go away. But the two companies failed to reach a final agreement. Meanwhile, RIM says it has designed "work around" solutions to avoid treading on NTP claims. And the patent re-examination process initiated by RIM has not exactly been working out in NTP's favor.
But even as RIM's legal battle starts to take a favorable turn, the company has been plagued by two network outages in the past week. The network was down for a few hours Wednesday afternoon. A RIM representative told Canada's
newspaper that the problem was related to hardware and that it has been resolved.
RIM also faces a growing challenge from closely-held Good Technology, a rival shop that delivers email to mobile devices.
Shares of RIM rose $1.05 to $79.40.