Will first responders lose Blackberries?

An injunction is threatened in suit over Blackberry patent infringement and maker RIM claims the result would be catastrophic for government services.

The Blackberry patent trial has moved onto a new PR front - what would happen to government employees and first responders if the Blackberry service is shut down  under an court-ordered injunction, Washington Technology reports.  NTP, which claims Blackberry violated  key patents,  claims that government and first responders would be exempt from any shutdown, while RIM claims there would be substantial disruption.

“[I]n reality, it would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the court to devise, implement and continue to administer any injunction that would not disrupt or diminish the use of BlackBerry devices by the mass of BlackBerry users that NTP concedes should be exempt,” RIM told the court.

RIM, in its brief, estimates that there are more than 1 million BlackBerry users in the public and private sectors who would need exemptions.

RIM, government officials and the court could develop and maintain a “white list” of these users, but this would be nearly impossible, the company said.

“Needless to say, the formidable logistical difficulties presented by having to identify and verify the continuing status of ‘excluded or included’ users from among the tens of thousands of governmental agencies, governmental contractors and subcontractors, and other companies and organizations that would be, or should be, exempt are prohibitive,” RIM said. 

 Grandstanding? To some degree. But not entirely:

  “I give [RIM’s argument] some credence; I’m sure there’s some difficulties in separating Uncle Sam” from an injunction, Richard Rainey [an IP lawyer] said, “but they probably bill Uncle Sam, and I’m sure there’s a way to track that.”