In a dramatic but not completely unexpected move, Blackberry maker RIM (Research In Motion) settled its patent dispute with NTP late last week, ensuring that Blackberry users will continue to be able to access email services wirelessly using the small portable devices. The settlement is worth $612.5 million, and is full and final. That is, even if the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) eventually overturns NTP's patents, RIM has to pay the settlement fee.

"We really did this to give certainty, and calmness and comfort to our ecosystem," RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said Friday. Balsillie said that RIM would make a one-time payment to NTP to cover that company's wireless email patents and that RIM would get a "perpetual" license to the technology. RIM had previously set aside $450 million towards a potential settlement with NTP.

Last week, NTP had tried to convince a court to issue an injunction against RIM, which would have resulted in RIM disrupting its Blackberry service and stranding millions of US customers without email access. However, US District Judge James Spencer declined to issue an injunction and berated lawyers for the two companies for not reaching a settlement. That settlement finally came Friday, over three years after a federal jury determined that RIM was indeed infringing on NTP's patents.