After entering hardware licensing partnerships with China’s TCL, India’s Optiemus and Indonesia’s BB Merah Putih, the once mighty Canadian mobile phone manufacturer BlackBerry has decided to focus on enterprise software and a rich library of patents as the company’s main sources of revenue.
The latter has proven to be a double-edged sword in recent legal battles and out-of-court settlements, but you could say BlackBerry Limited is only getting started in its all-out war against some of the world’s largest tech companies today. After targetting Facebook’s core messaging service, as well as subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram, BB’s lawyers are somewhat predictably setting their sights on Snap Inc.
The 2011-founded American company behind popular photo sharing and IM app Snapchat is accused of pretty much the same sneaky stuff as Facebook. Namely, BlackBerry feels the defendant has unlawfully used its inventions and groundbreaking technologies for “substantial and undeserved windfall”, diverting consumers away from the “innovative” BlackBerry Messenger platform.
A wide range of patents is cited in BB’s latest complaint as allegedly “protecting the cutting-edge features” of its early phones, including several purportedly violated by Facebook. The finger is pointed at Snapchat for copying everything from its improved mapping techniques introduced just last year to various UI elements and enhancements that feel way too generic and broad to belong to any one industry “innovator.”
Still, Snap will need to take the impending lawsuit seriously, as it could end up paying through the nose in damages “sufficient to compensate BlackBerry for Defendants’ infringement, including an enhancement of damages on account of Defendants’ willful infringement.” Also, “reasonable” attorneys’ fees, and all “costs and expenses” associated with this action. Sounds like the beginning of yet another drawn-out patent court battle, although some sort of a private pact is always possible.