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Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the popular BlackBerry handheld, said Thursday it has reached an impasse in finalizing the settlement of a patent dispute with NTP Inc. In March, Toronto-based Research In Motion agreed to pay NTP $450 million to settle the two-and-a-half year legal dispute. The company filed a motion in federal court late Wednesday accusing NTP of refusing to honor its obligations and complete the final documents. It asked an appellate court to stay a pending appeal and send the case to a lower court to enforce the settlement. Shares of Research In Motion fell $1.16, or 1.5 percent, to $76.28 in late morning trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, where they have traded in a 52-week range of $52.25 to $103.56. James H. Wallace Jr., a lawyer for NTP, was in a meeting Thursday morning and unavailable for comment. Last August, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found that the BlackBerry infringed 11 of 16 patents held by Virginia-based NTP, ordering Research In Motion to pay $54 million in damages and a royalty of 8.6 percent on all BlackBerries sold. The court also issued an injunction preventing the company from making or selling the device domestically. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has national jurisdiction over patent and trade cases, threw out the award and injunction, and sent the suit back to the lower court for reconsideration. The March agreement between the companies settled all NTP’s claims. In exchange, Research in Motion and its customers received rights to continue their BlackBerry business without “further interference” from NTP. NTP is a lawyer-run company that owns patents but produces no products. “They’re referred to in the industry as patent trolls,” said Rob Sanderson, an analyst with American Technology Research. James L. Balsillie, the chairman and CEO of Research in Motion, said repeatedly during a conference call with analysts Thursday that the $450 million payment is an “enormous sum of money.” He said he sees no ambiguity in the agreement between the two companies and that he is personally disappointed by events. Balsillie said he couldn’t discuss specifics of the latest dispute because of confidentiality agreements. “We believe the term sheet is explicit and clear and hope the court will give this matter the serious consideration it deserves,” he said. Two possibilities for a resolution exist outside of court. One is that RIM could modify the design of its product so it works around NTP’s patent, Balsillie said. The other is that pending claims before the U.S. Patent Office could overturn the NTP patents at issue. NTP has recently lost a series of challenges to the pertinent patents, Sanderson said. Research In Motion said Thursday that it has already set aside and will continue holding funds to make the $450 million settlement payment. The company said it is reviewing potential accounting implications of the move and will provide updates when it reports first-quarter fiscal 2006 results on June 29. Associated Press Business Writer Ellen Simon in New York contributed to this report. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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