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Facebook sued by BlackBerry over app patent

As the use of WhatsApp and Facebook messenger services increase, BlackBerry messengers fails to flourish and now the company targets Facebook over patent.

By April Slattery

BlackBerry has filed a lawsuit against Facebook regarding an alleged violation of its patent rights over BlackBerry Messenger.

BlackBerry has claimed that Facebook stole features and technology such as methods to notify users of new messages, as well as tagging people in photos from the messenger. The violation is said to have occurred over both WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram applications.

“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. “Protecting shareholder assets and intellectual property is the job of every CEO,” BlackBerry spokeswoman Sarah McKinney said in an email. However, she noted that litigation was “not central to BlackBerry’s strategy.”

Facebook sued by BlackBerry over app patent

BlackBerry Messenger used to be the port of call for users, now WhatsApp has taken over.

BlackBerry Messenger, known commonly as BBM, was once the most popular app on mobile devices until the likes of Apple and Samsung began to dominate the market ousting out the devices and application. Now WhatsApp is among the favoured messaging services, operating on Android and iOS devices. Additionally, BlackBerry has inevitably lost its share in the smartphone market, after rivals have innovated quicker and stole the spotlight.

According to the BBC Paul Grewal, deputy general counsel of Facebook, 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,” he said.

Although the claim could ring true regarding reuse of the features, in today’s technology the ‘features’ are standard practice for such apps and may not been seen as a unique feature to one messaging service. Therefore, the law suit may be harder to fight than BlackBerry first thought.

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The law suit against Facebook is not the first BlackBerry has filed. In February last year, the company sued rivals Nokia over patent infringement on its 3G and 4G wireless communications technology. This case is still pending.

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The smartphone company is also trying to persuade other companies to pay licensing royalties to use its collection of over 40,000 global patents on technology. These include various operating systems, networking infrastructure, messaging and wireless communications. BlackBerry also plans to sell its cyber security software for self-driving cars.

Facebook has said it will fight the law suit against BlackBerry.

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