BlackBerry maker Research in Motion said Friday it agreed to pay $612.5 million to patent holding company NTP to settle a long-running dispute that had threatened to shut down the popular wireless e-mail service for its 3 million users.

Canadian-based Research in Motion (Research) announced the settlement late Friday ahead of a U.S. judge’s expected ruling on damages in the case.

Under the settlement, NTP granted RIM the right to keep running its BlackBerry business, the company said in a statement.

“The agreement has been finalized and NTP’s lawsuit against RIM has been dismissed by a court order,” the Canadian company said. “The settlement means no further court proceedings or decisions about damages are necessary.”

RIM also issued a warning Friday, lowering its 4th-quarter revenue projections.

“This is an extremely positive development for RIM. The settlement basically makes the pre-warning irrelevant,” said Peter Misek, an analyst with Canaccord Capital. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand for RIM products, and competitors have not been able to capitalize on this.”

“This settlement was less than Wall Street expected,” he said.

Steve Maebius, an intellectual property lawyer with Foley & Lardner, said that recent developments at the patent office may have influenced the suit to be settled for less than the $1 billion that NTP had once demanded.
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