Blackberry has filed a lawsuit, accusing Facebook of copying features from Blackberry Messenger in a violation of its patent rights.

Blackberry, the once-great smartphone maker, the king of its own era, the brand who dominated the early era of the 21st century with their great smartphones and innovations, is suing Facebook for patent infringement. Blackberry says they own almost all of the software patents of the most basic features of modern smartphone messaging services, and the company says it wants Facebook to pay up.

Lawsuit details:

Blackberry has stated in their lawsuit that Facebook used the features and technology in their social apps “WhatsApp and Instagram” that was the patent of Blackberry. The lawsuit explains that its intellectual property has been infringed upon by Facebook “using a number of the ingenious security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features that made BlackBerry’s products (BlackBerry messenger) such a critical and commercial success in the first place.”

Here is the list of the patents that include blackberry’s rights.

  • Patent 7,372,961 covers the concept of generating a cryptographic key by choosing a pseudorandom number and then checking if it is “less than order q prior to reducing mod q.” If it is, the key is used. If not, another key is chosen at random and the process repeats.
  • Patent 8,209,634 covers the concept of using icons with numeric badges to signal the arrival of new messages.
  • Patent 8,279,173 covers the concept of tagging people in photos using an auto-completing search box.
  • Patent 8,301,713 covers the concept of marking a significant lull in a text message conversation by inserting a timestamp reflecting the time of the next message.
  • Patent 8,429,236 covers the concept of changing how a mobile device sends messages depending on whether they’re being actively read by the recipient’s device. For example, if updates aren’t being read in real time, then the sending device may be able to conserve power by sending messages in batches rather than one at a time.
  • Patent 8,677,250 covers the concept of tying a messaging service and a game application together so that a user playing a game can send messages to contacts on the messaging app that includes updates on the player’s progress in the game.
  • Patent 9,349,120 covers the concept of muting a message thread.

Credit goes to arstechnica.com for mentioning all of the patents in details. 

However, we all know that it’s not unusual for technology companies that lose their lead in the marketplace like Blackberry did, to turn to patent licensing as an alternative way to make money. Blackberry has failed in producing good smartphones drastically that would compete with current-gen flagships from other brands, so instead of focusing on innovations, Blackberry turned to patent licensing.

Facebook’s Answer

Paul Grewal, deputy general counsel of Facebook, said Blackberry’s claim “sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business” and “Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, Blackberry is now looking to tax the innovation of others. We intend to fight,” he said.

Hopefully, Facebook will sign a patent licensing agreement with BlackBerry if things don’t get harsh between both companies, or we could see a big change from Facebook in updating their social apps with their own ideas if they don’t shake hands with Blackberry.