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Another headache for RIM: Dutch firm accuses it of infringing six patents

research-in-motionJust days after BlackBerry maker Research In Motion reported a set of grim financial results for its latest quarter, and at a time when the company is struggling to steady itself as it faces the toughest period in its 28-year history, a Dutch firm is now suing it for alleged infringement of not one but six patents.

According to a Reuters report, Dutch semiconductor company NXP filed its lawsuit in a court in Orlando, Florida on Monday. It alleges that some of RIM’s BlackBerry phones, together with the PlayBook tablet, have infringed on patents issued to the company between 1997 and 2008.

The patents relate to “design, data transmission and other features of the devices,” the report said.

RIM’s share price, which has already fallen some 80 percent in the last year, fell a further 9.6 percent to $12.88 off the back of the news.

In its complaint, NXP said it was seeking “recovery of damages at least for lost profits, reasonable royalties, unjust enrichment, and benefits received by RIM as a result of using the misappropriated technology.”

RIM will be desperate to avoid an outcome similar to the one it suffered at the hands of NTP Inc. in 2006 when, following a five-year legal battle, it ended up paying the Virginia-based patent holding company just over $610 million.

The news will be another headache for RIM’s recently installed CEO Thorsten Heins, who is battling against a shrinking customer base and poor sales, and who last week said that in order for the company to survive, “substantial change” was needed.

In a bid to turn the troubled company around, Heins said that while it would not be abandoning the consumer market, it would however be putting extra resources into trying to attract more business users, an area in which it has performed strongly in the past.

However, a lack of head-turning devices, delays in the launch of its possibly company-saving BlackBerry 10 smartphones, and increased competition from the likes of Apple and firms making Android-powered smartphones are all pointing towards a very challenging year for RIM.