Blackberry sues Facebook over instant messaging patents

Blackberry has filed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing it of infringing intellectual property rights over few of the most basic characteristics of modern messaging apps like the notification counter which appears on the app icon and chat while playing games.

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook “created mobile messaging applications that co-opt BlackBerry’s innovations, using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality-enhancing features that made BlackBerry’s products such a critical and commercial success in the first place.”

The lawsuit further alleges that the infringement is not just committed on the part of Facebook for its native apps but the apps it acquired as well—Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Defendants (Facebook and its subsidiaries) have used BlackBerry’s own intellectual property to compete with it in the mobile messaging space. These applications are ever expanding, including Facebook Messenger, Facebook Messenger Lite, Facebook Pages Manager, and Facebook Workplace Chat, the WhatsApp Messenger application made by WhatsApp Inc., and the Instagram application made by Instagram, Inc,” it says.

The lawsuit if won by Blackberry, however, the chances of happening that are slim, according to ArsTechnica, can force Facebook to overhaul the design and functionality of its apps which are used by billions of people worldwide.

Interestingly, the same technologies are being used by other tech companies as well, be it Apple, Google or Telegram. Though, the lawsuit does not name any other company.

“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,” a Blackberry spokesperson said in a mail to ArsTechnica.

However, miffed Facebook is in no mood to settle. “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,” Facebook deputy general counsel Paul Grewal said in an email statement.

It is not unusual for a beleaguered company to vie for extra bucks by suing industry leaders in their respective field by weaponising patents. Yahoo and Nokia after losing their top position have taken this route in the past.