Is it finally time for BBM to get its due? BlackBerry sues Facebook over messaging patents

BlackBerry is suing Facebook. The former smartphone pioneer is claiming products like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram are infringing upon its wealth of messaging patents.

In a 117-page writ, made public on Tuesday, BlackBerry is arguing Facebook and its associated apps are piggybacking on technologies patented under the groundbreaking BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) platform, without reparation.

It says Facebook is “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 suit says BlackBerry has attempted to engage Facebook in “several years” of dialogue over the patents in question, but it appears no agreement has been reached.

One of the patents includes the use of a notification dot to display unread messages, while another includes timestamps. BlackBerry also says patents pertaining to security and privacy have also been infringed upon by Facebook.

BlackBerry is seeking damages from Facebook as well as an injunction on usage while the matter is resolved.

Strong claim

A BlackBerry spokesperson told Fortune: “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 Messenger was doubtless a pioneering service, offering online instant messaging at a time when most phones relied on simple SMS messages for text communication.

While TCL bought the rights to sell BlackBerry-branded smartphones, the original company still exists as a mobile and solutions and security provider. The company recently returned to profit, with record software and services revenue.

The company is also seeking to make money from its portfolio of 40,000 patents, hence today’s lawsuit.

In a defiant statement, Facebook’s deputy general counsel Paul Grewal 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.”

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