The Canadian company BlackBerry Limited that originally designed and marketed the BlackBerry line of smartphones, tablets, and services has sued Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram over patent infringement. The complaint is a whopping 117 pages and the allegation is that Facebook’s apps and sites infringe seven U.S. patents owned by BlackBerry: U.S. Patent Nos. 7,372,961; 8,279,173; 8,209,634; 8,301,713; 8,429,236; 8,677,250; and 9,349,120 and one of which is the BBM, 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,” Canada-based BlackBerry said in a filing with a Los Angeles federal court. In addition, BlackBerry has also asked for unspecified monetary damages “including an enhancement of damages on account of Defendants’ willful infringement”.
Following the lawsuit, BlackBerry offered a statement: “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 alleged in its lawsuit that Facebook and its companies created mobile-messaging applications infringe on BlackBerry patents covering security, user interface features, battery-efficient status updates, and integrating mobile messaging in games. Some of the alleged patent violations include “icon[s] relating to electronic messaging on a graphical user interface of the wireless communication device” (a chat button), “receiving a plurality of electronic messages on the wireless communication device” (receiving messages from multiple people), and “visually modifying at least one displayed icon relating to electronic messaging to include a numeric character” (an unread count) and also other notification designs, the displaying of message timestamps, and the ability to tag friends and family in photos to name a few.
After exiting the mobile-device biz in 2016, BlackBerry said it would pursue a strategy of trying to boost revenue from licensing its portfolio of around 40,000 patents. Last year the company sued Nokia, alleging Nokia’s telecom equipment infringed BlackBerry intellectual property.
Last year, BlackBerry also reached a settlement with Qualcomm, under which Qualcomm agreed to pay $940 million to BlackBerry to resolve a dispute over royalty payments.
Facebook Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal said in a statement that the company intended to fight the lawsuit. “Blackberry’s suit sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business,” Mr. Grewal said. “Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, Blackberry is now looking to tax the innovation of others.”