Canada’s BlackBerry, founded in 1987 (also Most Favourite qwerty phone company) is back in the news. Not for their new technological developments but because of their legal battle this time. They have sued Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram in a 7-Count Patent Infringement Lawsuit over their copying Messaging Intellectual Features and tech. The source of copying all the listed features is being BlackBerry Messenger, (also known as BBM). In their claim, BlackBerry accused Facebook for unethically using their tech, which includes User Interface, Security, Notification Design too !
Following are the Key Points from BlackBerry in their complaint over the infringement :
- As an innovator, BlackBerry took many steps to safeguard this valuable intellectual property. It received numerous patents protecting the cutting-edge features of its mobile phones, BlackBerry Messenger, and other communications applications that make such products secure, easy-to-use, and ultimately engaging to the end-user, thereby driving user growth and retention.
- Facebook and its Companies Later Develop Competing Applications that Improperly Use BlackBerry’s Mobile Messaging Intellectual Property – Defendants, on the other hand, are relative latecomers to the mobile messaging world. Defendants created mobile messaging applications that co-opt BlackBerry’s innovations, using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features that made BlackBerry’s products such a critical and commercial success in the first place. These include the features covered by the Patents-in-Suit.
- The Patents-in-Suit cover, for example:
(a) Security Improvements—improved cryptographic techniques that establish and maintain security over user messages and provide the requisite trust necessary for user adoption of a messaging platform for their communication needs;
(b) User Interface Improvements For Mobile Devices—including
(i) improvements in message notification techniques that streamline and optimise reception of new message notifications that prevent users from being inundated with numerous messaging notifications.
(ii) display of timestamps in a messaging user interface that provides users with appropriate temporal context for their communications without overtaking the user’s screen with unnecessary information.
(iii) tagging friends and family in social media photographs;
(c) Combining Mobile Gaming And Mobile Messaging—allowing users to more easily interact while playing electronic games; and
(d) Battery Efficient Status Updates for Mobile Devices—improved techniques for transmitting status updates based on whether a second device is viewing the status updates, to reduce power consumption and improve battery life in mobile devices. These features, all invented by BlackBerry, are “table stakes” for modern mobile messaging and social networking.
- Thus, Defendants have used BlackBerry’s own intellectual property to compete with it in the mobile messaging space. These applications are ever expanding, including Facebook Messenger, Facebook Messenger Lite, Facebook Pages Manager, Facebook.com and Facebook Workplace Chat, the WhatsApp Messenger application made by WhatsApp Inc., and the Instagram application made by Instagram, Inc. The importance of mobile messaging is emphasised by the reported $19 billion dollars Facebook spent to acquire WhatsApp.
As per the words from BlackBerry Spokesperson :
“We have a lot of respect for Facebook and the value they’ve placed on messaging capabilities, some of which were invented by BlackBerry. As a cyber-security and embedded software leader, BlackBerry’s view is that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp could make great partners in our drive toward a securely connected future, and we continue to hold this door open to them. However, we have a strong claim that Facebook has infringed on our intellectual property, and after several years of dialogue, we also have an obligation to our shareholders to pursue appropriate legal remedies.”
You may look on the various points in their complaint from this link.
When asked from Facebook on this matter, Facebook general counsel Paul Grewal said “Blackberry’s suit sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business. Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, Blackberry is now looking to tax the innovation of others. We intend to fight.”
Well, Fighting Lawsuits related to Patents is not a new thing for BlackBerry, as they fought against Nokia regarding Infringement of patents over 3G & 4G Wireless technology last year.
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