BlackBerry sues Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram for IP infringement


The once mighty smartphone and tech giant BlackBerry is suing Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp for allegedly copying features which first appeared on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

Although BBM is no longer developed by BlackBerry, the company nonetheless saw it fit to protect “shareholder assets and intellectual property”, a company spokesperson told Reuters.

More than 2.1-million people still use BBM in South Africa, BBM CEO Matthew Talbot told Memeburn in a May 2017 interview.

According to BlackBerry, Facebook is “using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features” within both Instagram and WhatsApp.

There are seven patents listed within the filing. They include:

  • 7,372,961 – which covers a “method of public key generation”
  • 8,279,173 – titled “user interface for selecting a photo tag”
  • 8,209,634 – concerning “previewing a new event on a small screen device”
  • 8,301,713 – titled “handheld electronic device and associated method providing time data in a messaging environment”
  • 8,429,236 – which covers the “transmission of status updates responsive to status of recipient application”
  • 8,677,250 – a “system and method for switching between an instant messaging conversation and a game in progress”
  • 9,349,120 – and finally, this patent covers a “system and method for silencing notifications for a message thread”

Although BBM’s creator is the latest company to want some of Facebook’s lucrative social messaging sauce, the latter isn’t exempt from gaining inspiration from competitors.

Instagram Stories, WhatsApp Status and what was known as Messenger Day all borrowed heavily from Snapchat’s Stories feature. And it faced internet backlash for it too. That hasn’t stopped WhatsApp and Instagram from topping and nearing the billion user mark respectively.

Snap has yet to toss a lawsuit over Facebook HQ’s fence.

But BlackBerry also has a recent history of hunting companies for using its intellectual property too. Qualcomm and American smartphone manufacturer Blu have been in the firing line most recently, with the former dishing out slightly south of US$1-billion in royalty payments.

The complaint has been filed in a Californian district court, so we’ll have to wait to see which wins: Facebook or the fruit.

Feature image: Memeburn

Andy Walker, former editor


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