The maker of BlackBerry e-mail devices on Wednesday lost an emergency Supreme Court appeal which sought to put a long-running patent suit against the company on hold.
Research In Motion Ltd. is appealing an infringement verdict to the high court and wanted the lawsuit stalled while the appeal was pending. Chief Justice John Roberts denied the company’s request for a stay, without comment.
Lawyers for RIM had argued its business would be harmed irreparably if the court did not delay the return of the case to the lower court where the company was found guilty in 2003 of violating patents held by NTP Inc.
The loss on Wednesday, which had been expected, does not say anything about a more significant issue, whether the Supreme Court will hear RIM’s appeal.
The decision comes just days after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit also refused to issue a stay in the case during RIM’s appeal.
In August, the appeals court upheld most of the 2003 verdict, but directed the trial judge in the case to examine whether certain errors tainted the jury’s deliberations. The verdict has raised the prospect that RIM could be forced to stop selling its popular handhelds and wireless e-mail service.
The lower court also will consider RIM’s bid to enforce an apparent settlement reached earlier this year calling for a $450 million payment to NTP, which says the terms of the deal were never finalized.
RIM, based in Waterloo, Ont., said in a statement that, “While further review by the Supreme Court is generally uncommon, RIM continues to believe this case raises significant national and international issues warranting further appellate review.”
NTP, based in Arlington, Va., had filed arguments with the Supreme Court earlier Wednesday, accusing RIM of trying to drag the case out.
“RIM intends to take as much time as possible, seek as many extensions as possible, and defer consideration of its (appeal) until after the present Supreme Court term ends next year,” NTP’s filing said.
The court proceedings are separate from deliberations by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which recently issued preliminary rejections of the five NTP patents that RIM was found to have violated in the lawsuit.
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.