BlackBerry accuses Snapchat of infringing its messaging patents

BlackBerry accuses Snapchat of infringing its messaging patents

BlackBerry has filed a complaint against Snap accusing the company of infringing its patented messaging technology in the Snapchat app. The complaint, which runs a hefty 71 pages, accuses Snap of infringing six patents including map improvements for mobile devices, advertising techniques, and UI improvements for mobile devices. It also cites Snap Maps and the display count of unread messages on a notification dot as “infringing activities.” The complaint was first reported by Bloomberg.

BlackBerry previously filed a lawsuit in March against Facebook, alleging that the social media platform, WhatsApp, and Instagram also infringed on BlackBerry’s messaging app patents. The Snap complaint includes two patents (‘634 and ‘713) that also appear in the Facebook suit. The ‘634 patent refers to the display count notification dot, while ‘713 is a patent that discloses time data in messaging conversations.

In its heyday, BlackBerry was known for BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), a feature that let users easily send chat messages to one another from their phones, which was innovative for its time. As we previously noted, the core of BlackBerry’s complaints is centered on the BBM feature being a cornerstone of modern mobile communications.

BlackBerry says Snap has used the company’s intellectual property to compete with it in the messaging space, diverting users from BlackBerry toward Snapchat. BlackBerry states that this resulted in “a substantial and undeserved windfall” for Snap.

The complaint states that BlackBerry has attempted to resolve the matter without going to court:

It (BlackBerry) has been communicating with Defendant (Snap) for over a year regarding its patent portfolio, including various letters, calls and an in person meeting. Through this suit, BlackBerry seeks redress for the harm caused by Defendant’s unlawful use of BlackBerry’s intellectual property.

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BlackBerry no longer makes phones, and it sold the rights to design, manufacture, and sell BlackBerry-branded devices to Chinese company TCL in December 2016. BlackBerry Limited now produces the company’s software and mobile security products. According to Bloomberg, BlackBerry has also reached settlements with Cisco, Blu Products, and Avaya Holdings over patent complaints. It’s a strategy reminiscent of TiVo, which still manufactures products but makes most of its money through litigation and licensing patents.

“We believe there are far more opportunities for partnership than disagreement,” BlackBerry senior director of communications Sarah McKinney said in an email to The Verge. “While we continue to hold this door open, we also have a strong claim that Snap infringed on our intellectual property, harmed our shareholders, and we have an obligation to pursue appropriate legal remedies.”

BlackBerry is seeking compensation for damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and the “destruction and recall of infringing products and materials.” Snap declined to respond to questions put forward by The Verge.

Update April 4th, 10:58 AM ET: Added comment from BlackBerry.

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