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Zoom fends off RingCentral attempt at 9th Circ to block end to services

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Small toy figures are seen in front of Zoom logo in this illustration picture taken March 15, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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  • RingCentral asked court to keep Zoom from blocking product access
  • 9th Circuit affirms rejection of RingCentral's request
  • Parties in dispute over end to contract

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(Reuters) - Zoom convinced a U.S. appeals court on Thursday to reject a bid from its former business partner RingCentral to force the videoconferencing giant into letting it continue to use Zoom's technology.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the cloud-based communications platform hadn't made the case for a preliminary injunction because it didn't show it was likely to succeed on its claims in its ongoing litigation with Zoom in California.

Zoom first sued RingCentral in March after deciding not to renew an agreement that allowed RingCentral to resell Zoom's service as "RingCentral Meetings."

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"Despite repeated requests from Zoom that it stop, RingCentral has continued unabated to market and resell Zoom's products to new customers," the complaint said. Zoom asked the court to order RingCentral to stop using its trademarks and selling its products, among other things.

RingCentral argued that their agreement hadn't yet ended, and that Zoom "hopes to scare RingCentral's customers into abandoning RingCentral and contracting with Zoom directly." It asked the court for a preliminary injunction preventing Zoom from blocking new RingCentral customers from accessing Zoom services.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila rejected RingCentral's request in April, finding neither party had shown it was likely to succeed on its claims yet, and that RingCentral wouldn't suffer irreparable harm without an injunction.

RingCentral argued on appeal that it was likely to win because the parties' contractual obligations are "clear cut," and that it would suffer "substantial reputational harm and the lost trust of customers and partners" without the order.

Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas and Circuit Judges Michael Hawkins and Michelle Friedland wrote in an unsigned Thursday opinion that both Zoom and RingCentral had given plausible interpretations of their agreement, and that Davila was entitled to "defer determination of this disputed question until further development of the record."

Zoom's attorney Doug Lumish of Latham & Watkins said he was pleased with the decision, and "confident that the legal process will confirm that Zoom has no obligation to support legacy RingCentral Meeting customers after the end of the contract's sunset period."

"If RingCentral truly believes in their own technology, they should use it," Lumish said.

RingCentral and its attorneys Andrew Silverman of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Walter Brown of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is Zoom Video Communications Inc v. RingCentral Inc, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-15792.

For Zoom: Douglas Lumish of Latham & Watkins

For RingCentral: Andrew Silverman of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Walter Brown of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com

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