BlackBerry maker Research In Motion likely decided to settle a patent infringement case with a U.S. technology company to avoid losing any market share to competitors Apple and Google, say analysts.

Prism Technologies has reached a settlement and licensing agreement with RIM involving authentication systems on BlackBerrys such as the Curve 8330. Terms of the settlement haven’t been disclosed.

The Prism patent involves the security of electronic information.

Analyst Nick Agostino said yesterday that RIM can’t afford to take on a legal battle that could impact its market share or sales. The cost of recouping any lost business would likely be greater than the cost of settling, said Agostino, of Toronto-based Mackie Research Capital Corp.

“In today’s competitive landscape with Google and Apple on their heels, RIM cannot afford to take on a legal battle that could possibly impact their business,” he said from Toronto.

Alastair Sweeny, author of BlackBerry Planet, said RIM also faces challenges in the consumer market.