BlackBerry manufacturer to face another federal patent probe

Another legal dispute over patents has prompted federal officials to investigate Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of the BlackBerry.

The U.S. International Trade Commission announced Friday it would officially probe whether RIM violated one or more of five patents held by Motorola, which has been suing the BlackBerry company for years now.

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At issue seems to be the wireless Internet technology Research in Motion includes with its phones. Motorola officials allege the BlackBerry borrows heavily from its innovations in low-cost Wi-Fi connectivity and use.

“In light of RIM’s continued unlicensed use of Motorola’s patents, RIM’s use of delay tactics in our current patent litigation and RIM’s refusal to design out Motorola’s proprietary technology, Motorola had no choice but to file complaint with the ITC to halt RIM’s continued infringement,” Tama McWhinney, a spokeswoman for Motorola, told Bloomberg this weekend.

The ITC now must decide whether to block imports of five top BlackBerry products -- the Pearl, Curve, Bold, Storm and Tour smartphones. However, the federal panel is unable by law to require Research in Motion to pay any penalties.

Nevertheless, this is the second such challenge Research in Motion faces in the coming months: Another ITC investigation, also announced this week, will examine whether the BlackBerry's camera technology in any way violates Kodak's patent rights.