BlackBerry sues Facebook and WhatsApp

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holding a stack of papers that's not BlackBerry's lawsuit.                  James Martin  CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holding a stack of papers that's not BlackBerry's lawsuit. James Martin CNET

Under CEO John Chen, the company has officially stopped making its own phones and focused its efforts on enterprise software that has a strong emphasis on security.

BlackBerry spokeswoman Sarah McKinney said in an email that the litigation is "not central to BlackBerry's strategy".

Facebook said it would fight the suit and its deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal, said that the filing "sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business".

BlackBerry said Facebook and its companies developed "competing applications that improperly used BlackBerry's mobile messaging intellectual property".

"Facebook informs us insufficiently about gathering information about us, the kind of data it collects, what it does with that data and how long it stores it", said the court.

BBM was an early way for BlackBerry users to send text messages (including images) to other BlackBerry uses while bypassing carrier fees. Another patent claims ownership over mixing mobile mini-games with a messenger service, something that was very popular in MSN and Windows Live Messenger back in the day.

In total, BlackBerry accuses Facebook of infringing on seven of its patents-all of which helped the social media giant pull customers away from BlackBerry's business, the lawsuit claims.

According to CNBC, the lawsuit alleges that Facebook built the integration of its services across all of its platforms on technology patented by BlackBerry.

Facebook and its wholly owned services Instagram and WhatsApp are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit goes on to state that its patents cover "Combining Mobile Gaming and Mobile Messaging" along with "Battery Efficient Status Updates for Mobile Devices" among other things. Although you can still buy BlackBerry phones - they're actually made by Chinese company TCL Communications under licence - BlackBerry's business is now largely focused on software, driverless auto technology and monetising its many technology patents - of which more than 40,000 exist.

These include operating systems, networking infrastructure, acoustics, messaging, automotive subsystems, cybersecurity and wireless communications. Other patents address photo tagging and messaging time stamps.

Later, Blackberry also shifted to Android but failed to make an impact. That case is reportedly still pending in court.

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