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A federal appeals court has denied Research In Motion Ltd.’s request to delay the next phase in a long-running patent suit while the maker of BlackBerry e-mail devices appeals an infringement verdict to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s refusal to issue a stay means the case will proceed back to a district court, which will reconsider certain aspects of a 2003 jury verdict won by NTP Inc. The lower court will also reconsider a dispute over whether the companies reached a settlement earlier this year. Shares of RIM slid as much as 9.6 percent on Friday before recovering to $63.27, down $1.39 or 2.2 percent, in afternoon Nasdaq trading. RIM, based in Waterloo, Ont., said Friday it will ask the Supreme Court to suspend the court proceedings while deciding whether to hear the appeal. The refusal to stay the case comes two months after a three-judge panel from the appeals court upheld most of the 2003 verdict, which has raised the seemingly remote possibility that RIM might be forced to stop selling BlackBerrys without a settlement. But the August decision also identified certain errors during the trial, thereby reversing some of the infringement finding and asking the trial court to review whether those errors tainted the overall jury verdict. NTP, based in Arlington, Va., has disputed the significance of that ruling as well as a series of recent “preliminary” rejections by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of the five patents RIM was found to have violated. RIM has asserted that the patent office’s actions hold enough weight to sway the court case, while NTP has dismissed them as a common formality in the agency’s lengthy review process. Settlement talks in the case broke down in June, several months after the companies appeared to reach an agreement that called for a $450 million payment to NTP. RIM has indicated it will ask the trial court to enforce the settlement, while NTP has maintained that the companies failed to reach a definitive agreement over licensing terms for the patents in dispute. “We’re willing to settle the case, but not on terms that RIM is going to dictate,” said Donald E. Stout, an attorney for NTP. “If the judge says ‘NTP, you’re right, there’s no contract,’ we will offer RIM a license with terms and conditions that we’re willing to grant them a license under. And if they don’t take that, we’ll seek to enforce the injunction” from RIM to stop selling BlackBerry mobile devices and service.” RIM, in a statement, said it “maintains that an injunction is inappropriate given the facts of the case and substantial doubts raised subsequent to trial as to the validity of the patents in question.” Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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