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BlackBerry sues Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram for alleged infringement

BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook Inc (FB.O) and its WhatsApp and Instagram apps, arguing that they copied technology and features from BlackBerry Messenger.

The core of BlackBerry’s complaint, which is a sprawling 117 pages, is that Facebook, along with its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram developed messaging applications that “co-opt BlackBerry’s innovations” by using patented features touching on security, the user interface, and battery life.

“Defendants created mobile messaging applications that co-opt BlackBerry’s innovations, using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features,” Canada-based BlackBerry said in a filing with a Los Angeles federal court.

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Facebook Deputy General Counsel, Paul Grewal said in a statement that the company intended to fight the lawsuit.

“Blackberry’s suit sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business,” Grewal said. “Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, Blackberry is now looking to tax the innovation of others.”

According to Reuters, litigation over patent infringement is part of BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen’s strategy for making money for the company, which has lost market share in the smartphone market it once dominated.

BlackBerry sued Nokia Corp in February 2017, alleging infringement of patents relating to 3G and 4G wireless communications technology. That case is still pending in federal court in Delaware.

Last year Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) agreed to pay BlackBerry $940 million to resolve arbitration over royalty payments.

In October 2017 BlackBerry announced a confidential settlement with Blu Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-cost mobile devices it had also sued for patent infringement.

BlackBerry was an early leader in the messaging market with the success of its smartphones and BlackBerry Messenger product in the mid-2000s.

The patents cited in their lawsuit against Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram describe foundational elements of today’s messaging services. One patent deals with notifications for the total number of unread messages.

Other patents address photo tagging and messaging time stamps.

BlackBerry is seeking unspecified monetary damages. It also appears to be seeking a partnership.

“As a 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,” the spokesperson said in the statement.

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