Published in Mobiles

Blackberry turns into a patent hunter

by on07 March 2018

Goes after social media sites

After failing to make money as a smartphone vendor, Blackberry has joined the long line of people suing sizeable social media sites for patent infringement.

While many believed that Blackberry had found new life and profits being a security company, it seems that the outfit is not just interested in that and wants to get a bit of cash from mining its patents.

BlackBerry on Tuesday filed patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram in Los Angeles Federal court.

In a statement, BlackBerry said: "We have a lot of respect for Facebook and the value they've placed on messaging capabilities, some of which were invented by BlackBerry. As cybersecurity and embedded software leader, BlackBerry's view is that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp could make great partners in our drive toward a securely connected future, and we continue to hold this door open to them. However, we have a strong claim that Facebook has infringed on our intellectual property, and after several years of dialogue, we have an obligation to our shareholders to pursue appropriate legal remedies."

BlackBerry claims seven software patents which are pretty broad.

  • Patent 7,372,961 covers the concept of generating a cryptographic key by choosing a pseudorandom number and then checking if it is "less than order q before reducing mod q." If it is, the key is used. If not, another key is chosen at random and the process repeats.
  • Patent 8,209,634 covers the concept of using icons with numeric badges to signal the arrival of new messages.
  • Patent 8,279,173 covers the concept of tagging people in photos using an auto-completing search box.
  • Patent 8,301,713 covers the concept of marking a significant lull in a text message conversation by inserting a timestamp reflecting the time of the next message.
  • Patent 8,429,236 covers the concept of changing how a mobile device sends messages depending on whether the recipient's device actively reads them.
  • Patent 8,677,250 covers the concept of tying a messaging service and a game application together so that a user playing a game can send messages to contacts on the messaging app that includes updates on the player's progress in the game.
  • Patent 9,349,120 covers the concept of muting a message thread.

Looking at this list, BlackBerry claims to own some of the most common features of modern mobile messaging apps. BlackBerry has asked the court to enjoin Facebook from infringing these patents, which could require Facebook to dramatically overhaul these apps or even shut them down altogether.  This is unlikely to happen and to be fair even US courts would not do that.



Last modified on 07 March 2018
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