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There’s no end in sight in the 2 1/2 year wrangle over the patents inside BlackBerry handhelds. In March, it looked like things were settled. Toronto-based Research in Motion Ltd., which makes BlackBerries, agreed to a $450 million settlement with NTP Inc., which owns a group of patents and claims the devices infringe on some of them. The two companies can’t agree that the settlement would cover all future payment obligations to NTP for Research in Motion. Last week, Research in Motion said NTP refused to honor its obligations and complete final documents for the settlement. It asked an appellate court Thursday to stay a pending appeal and send litigation between the companies to a lower court to enforce the settlement. NTP responded by saying there is no settlement. NTP said in a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles patent and trade disputes, that during talks to finalize the settlement, “It very quickly became evident that the parties had interpreted the vague term sheet in entirely different manners regarding virtually every significant provision.” The term sheet is confidential, but NTP said royalty payments were one sticking point. If the two companies can’t agree that Research in Motion’s payment covers royalties, then wireless carriers could be on the hook for future payments to NTP. “NTP and RIM even disagreed as to the basic element of who the parties in agreement were,” NTP said in its filing. Separately, the U.S. Patent Office has questioned the validity of two of NTP’s five patents in the dispute. “Should the courts grant RIM’s requested stay, RIM should have enough time to await further indications from the (Patent Office’s) review of the patents,” wrote Daryl Armstrong, a telecom equipment analyst at Smith Barney. Research in Motion said on a call with investors last week that it could modify the design of its products to work around NTP’s patent. Such a move wouldn’t buy peace, Armstrong wrote. “(I)t is likely that NTP may file another series of suits against this work-around if put in place,” he wrote. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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