Patent Wars: Nokia seeks sales block of BlackBerry devices in US

At a time when it could really use a break, Research In Motion(s rimm) can’t catch one. Nokia (s nok) 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.