[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has asked a federal judge considering a shutdown of the BlackBerry [product website] wireless email network to exempt government workers who rely on the technology. The DOJ submitted a list of 138 governmental agencies who rely on the BlackBerry network, including the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI, to be given permission to continue using the network. US District Judge James Spencer is scheduled to hold a hearing on a possible injunction February 24 as part of a patent infringement dispute between BlackBerry operator and owner Research In Motion (RIM) [corporate website] and patent owner NTP, Inc. Meanwhile on Thursday Canadian-owned RIM announced that Britain's patent court has ruled in its favor [Reuters report], declaring invalid the patents owned by InPro, Inc. to the BlackBerry technology, following a similar decision by a German patent court last week. Analysts predict that a US settlement between RIM and NTP could total $1 billion, as the Supreme Court last week declined to review [JURIST report] the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's decision [PDF text] upholding the trial court's 2003 finding [PDF text] that RIM violated NTP's patent. AP has more.