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BlackBerry sues Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram over patent infringement

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The Canadian firm BlackBerry has filed a 117-page lawsuit against “relative latecomers” Facebook and its and its subsidiaries, Instagram and WhatsApp over copyright infringement in mobile messaging.

The former phone giant sued the world’s largest social network in a Los Angeles court.

BlackBerry alleged that the social network has infringed on some of its patents including security features, mobile notifications, and combining gaming with messaging that made its products such a critical and commercial success in the first place.

BlackBerry no longer makes phones; however, it still gets its profit from patent licenses and software.

“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,” the phone maker said in a statement.

The phone-maker seeks “redress for the harm caused by defendants’ unlawful use of BlackBerry’s intellectual property”. As per the complaint, it could include injunctive relief and monetary damages. However, no specific figure was stated.

BlackBerry stated Facebook has copied BBM features like notification dots which alert users when a new message is received, icons that reflect whether a message has been received and read, timestamps in chat windows, the option to mute message threads, photo-tagging, among others.

Facebook’s take:

“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,” said Paul Grewal, FB deputy general counsel

BlackBerry’s take

“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 cyber-security 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.”

Previous Cases:

Meanwhile, this is not the first time Facebook has been sued by a company. In 2012, Yahoo sued Facebook, alleging it infringed on some of its advertising patents.

Also, in 2017, BlackBerry filed a patent case against Nokia alleging the company used almost a dozen of its inventions without permission.

BlackBerry also won a dispute over royalty payments against Qualcomm last year. The former agreed to pay BlackBerry a hefty amount of USD 940 million after an arbitration settlement over the case.

With both the tech giants making a strong statement, it remains to be seen what shape this legal battle will take.

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