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Judge sets hearing date for BlackBerry shut-off

The federal judge overseeing the patent infringement case against the maker of the BlackBerry portable e-mail device has scheduled a hearing to consider a possible shutdown injunction.
/ Source: Reuters

A hearing on a possible injunction shutting down most U.S. sales and service of the BlackBerry e-mail device has been scheduled for Feb. 24, according to a court notice posted on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer listed the date on the docket for the closely watched case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The hearing in Richmond, Va. could be the final legal step before Spencer decides whether to impose an injunction on the maker of the BlackBerry, Research In Motion Ltd., which lost a patent infringement suit to U.S. patent holding company NTP Inc.

Specifically at issue will be whether a possible injunction and damages against RIM should be affected by an August 2005 appeals court ruling that struck down part of a jury’s original findings but left standing several patent infringement rulings against RIM.

Lawyers for both sides are due to file final written response briefs with the judge on Feb. 1.

In briefs filed before Spencer on Jan. 17, RIM’s lawyers argued that Spencer should refrain from imposing any injunction for a number of reasons, including an “exceptional public interest” in maintaining uninterrupted BlackBerry service for national security officials, among others.