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Research In Motion, the Canadian firm behind the Blackberry PDA, will today be breathing an uneasy sigh of relief, having finally agreed to pay $612.5m to settle a fierce and extended patent law battle.

The saga began with an initial lawsuit brought by the intellectual property firm NTP, who claimed RIM’s Blackberry infringed patents it held. As reported in February’s issue of PC Plus, the case was in and out of court with both parties, at one point, believing the issue was resolved when RIM agreed to pay NTP $450m. This deal was however scuppered when a Virginia judge told both companies the settlement wasn’t enforceable.

Following that bombshell, RIM’s future was plunged into doubt with some analysts suggesting the Blackberry firm may face extinction when the case was brought before the courts for one final time. Worse still, while RIM waited for its day in court, its fortunes nosedived further when it was reported RIM was facing an immediate injunction forcing it to close it services. With fans in high places, the company escaped by the skin of its teeth thanks to the US government. It petitioned federal judges to give RIM a stay of execution because the device was popular with important government employees. It was argued that if the Blackberry system were shut down it would badly impact essential public serves.

Today’s deal does secure the future of the Blackberry, but at a considerable cost. To allay fears the penalty may sink RIM, the firm issued a statement claiming it has around $1.8b in various states of liquidity. It also stated the $612.5m is “full and final settlement of all claims against RIM, as well as for a perpetual, fully-paid up license going forward.”

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