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U.S. lawsuit claims RIM misled investors

A person poses while using a Blackberry Bold 2 smartphone made by Research in Motion
A person poses while using a Blackberry Bold 2 smartphone made by Research in Motion

TORONTO (Reuters) - Lawyers for shareholders of Research In Motion have filed a class action lawsuit against the BlackBerry maker, claiming its executives misled investors about its prospects in recent months.

RIM said on Friday it believes the allegations, filed in a New York court, are without merit and it will "vigorously defend" itself.

The lawsuit claims that RIM knew, but did not disclose to investors, that product delays and lackluster launches would hurt its earnings.

"Specifically, the company failed to inform investors that its aging product line and inability to introduce new products to the market was negatively impacting the company's business and margins," the legal document said.

It said that, as a result, RIM's stock traded at an artificially inflated level as high as $69.86 in February.

The claim covers a period from when RIM reported its third quarter results in December to when it slashed forecasts in April, a month after reporting fourth-quarter numbers.

The profit warning, blamed on poor performance in the United States and Latin America, stunned investors and sent the stock spiraling lower. It has not recovered since, and was down nearly 1 percent on Friday morning at $43.15 on Nasdaq. Its Toronto shares were off 1.2 percent at C$42.15

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of shareholders during this period.

The defendants named in the suit are co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie and Chief Financial Officer Brian Bidulka.

The complaint, dated May 26, is civil action number 11 CIV 3615 in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of New York.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Euan Rocha; Editing by Frank McGurty and Rob Wilson)

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