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Summary:

At a time where Research In Motion needs all the momentum it can muster, it may lose a little more. Nokia has asked for sales ban on all BlackBerry devices in the U.S. that use Wi-Fi, which is most of them.

BlackBerry 10 QNX

At a time when it could really use a break, Research In Motion can’t catch one. Nokia is seeking a U.S. ban on BlackBerry sales for any devices that use the 802.11 wireless LAN standard, according to Computerworld. The standard is better known as Wi-Fi, and most BlackBerry smartphones use it. Nokia is now asking a U.S. District Court in California to enforce a sales ban; the result of a nine-day arbitration event held in September between Nokia and RIM.

Research In Motion can possibly put an end to the ban before it even begins by working out a royalty rate with Nokia. Per the filing, Nokia says “[RIM] is not entitled to manufacture or sell products compatible with the WLAN standard without first agreeing with Nokia on the royalty to be paid for its manufacture and/or sale of subscriber terminals compatible with such standards.”

The timing of a potential sales ban is about the worst it can be for RIM, which is struggling to rebound from its lost smartphone dominance. Demand for smartphones is on the rise — more handhelds are sold than computers, for example — but RIM hasn’t benefited from such demand. Consumers, and even enterprises, have opted for phones running iOS or Android.

RIM hopes to turn things around early in 2013 with the release of new smartphone products and its BlackBerry 10 platform after a mostly failed attempt at making BlackBerry touch-friendly two years ago. Until that happens, the company needs to sell handsets and add users to its BlackBerry services in order to maintain any of the momentum it has. A sales ban on current devices would blunt that momentum before BlackBerry 10 even arrives.

  1. Wow. It looks like RIM agreed to be bound by arbitration and has failed to abide by the decision. Any guess, Kevin, as to the amount that they owe Nokia (or more correctly, MMI)? At say $3 per handset, a back of the envelope estimate is that RIM could owe as much as $700 million or roughly a third of their cash reserve.

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