The US Justice Department has filed an appeal with a federal judge to postpone any shutdown of the Blackberry mobile email service, citing concerns that any blackout could have a severe impact on the work of government officials who have become highly dependent on the service.
Its concerns stem from an ongoing patent wrangle between Canadian firm Research in Motion (RIM) and US company NTP, which alleges patent infringement and is demanding the service be switched off.
The convoluted dispute between the companies has been raging since 2002 when NTP won an injunction against RIM. Since then however, the patent office has backed RIM and NTP has seen a further four suits related to other Blackberry patents rejected.
The two companies appeared to have found a solution last year when they agreed a $450 million settlement, but the deal collapsed and in June a court ruled that the agreement was invalid and so unenforceable.
A final decision related to the patents is expected at the end of February and it is thought that the government’s intervention may have a significant impact on the case.