BlackBerry Limited, the now very-reduced Canadian business enterprise software company is taking Facebook and its subsidiaries, WhatsApp and Instagram, to court in a case where BlackBerry alleges Facebook (and its subsidiaries) infringe on its messaging app patents.
The 117 page complaint is centred around BlackBerry’s proprietary and patent-protected messaging product BlackBerry Messenger.
A BlackBerry Spokeswoman, Sarah McKinney, has stated that whilst they cannot make public the full complaint (which has subsequently been released by The Verge) that:
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. 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.
BlackBerry state its patents cover cryptographic techniques to protect user privacy, the mixing of mobile gaming and mobile messaging, the now-ubiquitous user interface elements of mobile messaging products (and that some of those interface elements are as broad as the notification design), the displaying of message time-stamps, and the ability to tag friends and family in photos.
The company is seeking “redress for the harm caused by Defendants’ unlawful use of BlackBerry’s intellectual property.” A couple of solutions have been provided which include injunctive relief and monetary damages, according to the complaint filed.
Facebook has since replied to the court application hearing via their Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal:
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.
Blackberry have had some success in 2017 with Qualcomm agreeing to pay BlackBerry $940 million to resolve arbitration over royalty payments and a confidential settlement with Blu Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-cost mobile devices it had also sued for patent infringement. They also have an ongoing case against Nokia where Blackberry are alleging patent infringement over some of their 3G and 4G patents.
While they seem to have a winning track record in recent times it will be interesting to see how BlackBerry fares in the case given the sheer size of the defendants this time.