Blackberry snaps, yakkity-yak Snapchat app brats slapped with patent trap rap

Who needs phones when you've got IP lawyers?

BlackBerry has filed suit against Snap Inc alleging the Snapchat service copied half a dozen of its mobile app design patents.

The one-time smartphone king continued its efforts to cash in on its patent portfolio Tuesday when it filed a complaint [PDF] in the Central California US District Court accusing Snap of stealing its patented designs for the layout, alert, and messaging functions within mobile apps.

According to BlackBerry, those patents cover many of Snapchat's most popular and lucrative features, including its "Snap Map" and "Snap Ads" features. BlackBerry believes those features were ripped off from BlackBerry's own mobile OS and Messenger (BBM) app.

"By the time Defendant released the first (and simplest) version of its messaging app, BlackBerry had already invented most of the technologically innovative messaging application functionalities at issue in this action," BlackBerry argues.

"Indeed, some of these innovations were already being utilized by users of BlackBerry’s smartphones, which represented more than half of the U.S. market in 2009 and came with BBM installed."

The six patents are:

  • 8,825,984 System and method for determining action spot locations relative to the location of a mobile device. "The system, server, mobile device, and method can receive data indicative of the current location of the mobile device, and determine at least one action spot relative to the current location of the mobile device. The action spot can be a location where at least one other mobile device has engaged in documenting action within a predetermined period of time from when the mobile device arrived at the current location"
  • 8,301,713 Handheld electronic device and associated method providing time data in a messaging environment. ""An improved handheld electronic device and an associated method are provided in which time data regarding certain aspects of a messaging conversation on a handheld electronic device are made available to a user. Such time data is provided, for instance, in situations where an interruption has occurred during a messaging conversation."
  • 8,825,984 System and method for determining action spot locations relative to the location of a mobile device. "The processor module is configured to receive executable instructions to display a graphical user interface of the display; receive data indicative of the current location of the mobile device; and determine at least one action spot relative to the current location of the mobile device. The processor module can signify the action spot on the graphical user interface and provide an indication of activity level occurring at the action spot."
  • 8,209,634 Previewing a new event on a small screen device. "When a new event occurs, particularly when the new event relates to a specific one of a plurality of similar applications, the invention provides a convenient way to denote which application relates to the event. In response to a new event of a one of the applications, the application's icon is visually modified to notify of the new event."
  • 8,296,351 System and method for pushing information to a mobile device. "A system for pushing information to a mobile device includes a information source, a wireless network, and a proxy content server. The information source stores information. The wireless network sends and receives transmissions to and from the mobile device. The proxy content server is coupled to information source and the wireless network and receives information from the information source. ."
  • 8,676,929 System and method for pushing information to a mobile device. "The information is located in one of a plurality of memory location channels, wherein the information is stored in the one of the plurality of memory location channels based on a category of the information matching a pre-defined category of the one of the plurality of memory location channels. When the information relevant to the detected triggering event comprises content information, a meta tag is inserted to the content information. The meta tag relates to display of specific one or more advertisements with the content information. The content information that includes the meta tag is transmitted to the mobile device."

BlackBerry claims that it has been trying to strike a license deal with Snap for more than a year but, with talks breaking down, it now has to resort to a lawsuit and request for a jury trial.

"This infringement has resulted in a substantial and undeserved windfall for Defendant as these users drive Defendant’s revenue," BlackBerry argues.

"Defendant’s gain comes at BlackBerry’s expense, depriving BlackBerry of revenue to which it is entitled as a result of its inventions. "

The complaint is very similar to the one BlackBerry filed last month against Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, and even references one of the same patents. This is not by accident.

BlackBerry believes that many of today's biggest social networking sites are basing their business on the concepts it came up with more than a decade ago when it was making the now-defunct BlackBerry smartphone platform. Now that its operation trimmed down to developing software for other platforms, BlackBerry's legal team is hoping to call in what it sees as overdue patent licenses. ®




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