Business

BlackBerry unveils bold new strategy: Suing the c**p out of Facebook

Old RIM job on Zuck's bucks, WhatsApp, Instagram named

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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Updated Smartphone market wraith BlackBerry has launched a legal offensive accusing Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram of patent infringement.

In a chunky 117-page filing [PDF] to the Los Angeles US District court, the Canadian software house says that the three social media giants are all basing their messaging tools on technology ripped off from BlackBerry Messenger.

"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," the suit claims.

None of the three have responded to a request for comment.

The patents in question cover some of the basic functions of mobile messaging software and security.

BlackBerry tells The Register it has been in talks with all three companies for years in an effort to strike a licensing deal, to no avail.

"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 cybersecurity 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," the company said in a statement.

"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."

Now, BlackBerry is seeking a jury trial to determine damages as well as an order enjoining the three companies from offering software that infringes on its patents.

What is far more likely an outcome is a deal between BlackBerry and the three social networking firms to settle the case and ink a licensing deal out of court.

Patent litigation has proven to be a fruitful pursuit for BlackBerry. Last April, a long-running case with Qualcomm ended in an $814m arbitration award for the company. ®

Updated to add

Facebook General Counsel Paul Grewal said his company plans to fight the case.

"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," Grewal said in a statement provided to El Reg.

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