LEADING THE DAY: Tech companies hailed the passage of free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia late Wednesday, saying that the agreements will help U.S. manufacturing and create American jobs.

Intel, the CCIA and the MPAA all issued statements applauding the action. Intel particularly mentioned that the agreement with Korea — with its growth in high-tech industry — will be beneficial to the sector.

RIM reports increase in service level: Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis released a video message on Research in Motion’s Web site Thursday saying he could not give customers a timeline for when service will be completely restored. He apologized to customers for the massive service disruptions that have swept the globe. In the statement, Lazaridis said that the company is approaching normal service levels in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa. He added that RIM is working “around the clock” to restore service.

A problem with the company’s systems in Europe caused a backlog of messages that have affected BlackBerry service around the world.

Tech executives in D.C.: Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg is in D.C. this week to meet with members of Congress and others about the impact Facebook has on small businesses. On Wednesday, Sandberg met with Sam and Kristi Whitfield, who own the food truck Curbside Cupcakes to discuss how they use Facebook.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith is also in town this week, participating Thursday in the weekly “Champions of Change” initiative, which recognizes community leaders for change. Smith was recognized for his commitment “closing the justice gap in America.” He will participate in a roundtable discussion with Attorney General Eric Holder and others.

Headed in the other direction, presidential candidate Mitt Romney will head to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, to give a speech to the company’s PAC on trade, the Seattle Times reported.

Apple wins Australian order: Apple won an order from an Australian court to block Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the country. The Wall Street Journal reported that the judge in the case is blocking sales after finding that Samsung’s product infringes on Apple patents used for its iPad tablet.

LightSquared hearing: In a small business hearing Wednesday, LightSquared’s vice president of regulatory affairs and public policy said that the company is facing a manufactured scandal over the firm’s political ties that is being pushed by the GPS industry. The company has faced criticism over its plan to create a new broadband network that would interfere with GPS systems and several Republican lawmakers have questioned whether the firm’s ties to the Obama administration helped the company gain critical approval for its project.

A spokeswoman for the Coalition to Save Our GPS denied coordinating any such campaign to The Hill, calling the idea “silly and self-serving.”