After missing the boat on the mobile hardware and software transformation of last decade, and then suffering a massive blow when they were sued over patent infringements, BlackBerry is fighting back and suing Facebook saying they copied technology and features from BlackBerry Messenger.
Documents filed with a Los Angeles federal court state “Defendants created mobile messaging applications that co-opt BlackBerry’s innovations, using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features”. They are targeting WhatsApp and Instagram in the lawsuit.
BlackBerry was once the “go to” solution when it came to mobile messaging. I remember installing a BlackBerry Enterprise Server in a Lotus Notes environment back in the early 2000s and it was cutting edge at the time. But then Microsoft offered mobile devices that integrated more easily with Exchange, Apple leapfrogged that generation of devices with the iPhone and BlackBerry didn’t realise their secret sauce was their software and not the hardware.
They eventually got the message, leaving the hardware business a couple of years ago, now focusing on selling Android devices made by other companies and then branding them.
In 2006, RIM (which was eventually renamed to BlackBerry) was sued by NTP, taking a US$612M hit and they never really came back to any sort of market dominance after that.
This latest lawsuit against Facebook represents one of the few ways the company can make any serious money – by enforcing the patents it still owns. While that’s one way to make a living it’s a sad chapter in the tale of what was once a very innovative company.