RIM's Legal Strategy Over Samsung's BlackJack Is A Bust

from the would-you-like-to-buy-some-insurance? dept

Research in Motion (RIM) is no stranger to silly intellectual property lawsuits. A few years back they started suing lots of other companies over patents they held on wireless email devices. That, of course, famously resulted in small patent holder NTP suing RIM for patent infringement, and eventually scoring $612 million off of the company. What’s amusing, of course, is that the lawyers behind NTP claim they only found out about RIM in the first place because of its own patent lawsuits. Apparently RIM’s lawyers haven’t learned a thing from all of this, and they’re now suing Samsung over the name of Samsung’s new smartphone: the BlackJack. This is a trademark (not patent) dispute, which makes a little more sense, since you need to protect your trademarks or risk losing them — but it seems like quite a stretch to suggest that people are going to confuse a device called the BlackBerry with a device called the BlackJack. If Samsung had named their device with “Berry” it might be a more believable case — since the “-Berry” suffix is more closely associated with RIM’s device. However, the odd part about this is that it effectively helps Samsung a lot more than it hurts them. Samsung should be thrilled about this lawsuit, which is generating a ton of free publicity for their new device, which otherwise probably wouldn’t have gotten all that much separate attention. Even better, it’s being compared to what’s considered the leader in the market. In RIM’s attempt to defend their trademark, all they’ve really done is helped promote the competition.


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Comments on “RIM's Legal Strategy Over Samsung's BlackJack Is A Bust”

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29 Comments
Brian says:

RIM is right...kinda

I kinds disagree with the tone of this one; making RIM out to be some silly sueing corporate idiots. I support BlackBerry devices (along with Palms, Windows Mobile, etc…) for a living and I’ve had at least 15 of my users ask about the new “BlackBerry” they saw on tv…”the Jack or somethin?”

Samsung isn’t stupid, but sneaky…they are directly using the branding awareness established by RIM to sell their product! You don’t think they named it “Black” for any old reason do you?

RIM has every right to protect the empire they have built.

Stork says:

Re: RIM is right...kinda

yeah, Black-Hat or even Black-Cat would have made much more sense, and would have been less confusing.

So what if Samsung named the device after the color of it – The Black-Jack is well… BLACK, as you might already know.

And what all the RED and also WHITE buttons on it, the device does sort of look like a toy you may find in a casino… thus an easy name such as “Black-Jack” is well fitting.

As for Black-Berry? Aren’t they already deemed as “Crack-Berries” because they are so “addictive”?

BLACK & CRACK…. hmm, yeah, they rhyme, but that is about all they have in common, name-wise.

KG says:

I also disagree with the tone of this article. If RIM didn’t speak up, Samsung would get away with using the public’s inability to remember names properly to assosiate themselves with RIMs products. That and it sets precedence, a stake in the ground. The next one could be even closer and just spun to be a derivative of BlackJack.

Whether they phase Samsung or not, is really not the point. They are legally obliged to protect their trademark, this is them doing that.

The infamous Joe. says:

Re: blackjack *is* confusing

There are also people who think that their Pc’s CD-ROM drive is a cupholder…

Trademarks aren’t written to protect the dumbest consumer– just the average one. Since I have had no problem telling the two apart, and I consider myself an average joe (ha!) then I’d say the trademark suit is bogus.

Sure, my grandma might be confused by the two, but that’s why god invented tech support guys like you, Mr. sm. (or ms?)

PS- To whomever it applies: Thanks for the RIM job joke, it was a great way to end my work day.

safusa says:

Blackjack

Well, there are alot of blackjack electronic games on the market, just look at wal-mart they have several. I don’t see how they can go after Samsung and not all the other electronic blackjack devices. If anything the people that sell the blackjack electronic games might be able to go after Samsung, but don’t see how RIM has any grounds for it.

Brian says:

apples to apples

Casinos, electronic blackjack, a card game, etc… aren’t mobile devices that compete directly with a BlackBerry device, are they? Just checking, because that would be the point of RIM protecting themselves.

If the point was name=name then maybe Kellogg’s should sue Samsung for taking some of their Apple Jacks cereal market too. The point is these are extremely similar devices; and BlackJack gets instant credibility because of what the name BlackBerry has become in the world of mobile PDAs.

It’s almost like what happens in the illegal duplication capital of the world – China. I’ll make my $5 Gore-Tex Jacket and call it Core-Tex.

And what does “my device is better than your device” have to do with this anyway? Who cares, that’s not the point. Everyone knows what I say is best is best, and what you like sucks. right?

The Captain says:

Flawed rebuttle.

The argument that RIM is going to go after BlackJack Software is a little overboard. The thought behind this is the fact that the BlackBerry and the BlackJack are the same type of product. People see the “Black” on a PDA with a thumb keyboard and assume that it is from the same product line.

RIM is not wrong to want to protect that Trademark and stop Sammy from being sneaky and riding on their coat tails to make a few extra dollars off of someone elses mark.

somebody says:

There seems to be the usual laypeople’s misunderstanding of trademark law here. No, it’s not a matter of “now there can’t be anything at all with black in its name.” Only other names that are confusingly similar and involve *similar products*. So Frankenberry (cereal), black jack (video games), and likewise black man (human, hopefully not a commercial product) and Black Friday (not a commercial product) are not relevant here.

If RIM presents evidence of actual consumer confusion, like the kind mentioned by some of the posters, it could be devastating in court. I’m surprised Samsung pushed the envelope this far here. I haven’t heard Samsung’s legal arguments yet (with real lawyers, they would not make some of the arguments posted here), but I expect that this will be expensive for Samsung and may require them to pull and rename the product. Ouch!

Mike is at TheLaw.com (user link) says:

RIM loses face and educates the market

I think that this article hit the nail on the head. If RIM wins such a lawsuit, then Black-anything should be barred so as to protect RIM’s trademark. Imagine what a RIM win would mean on a global scale – we’d increase the already massive number of absurd lawsuits by a factor of 10. Now I’m not saying that Samsung wasn’t clever in choosing a name that people may think is an association, but that’s RIM’s own choosing. But if you even think that trademark law is problematic, as the article points out, US patent law issues are an even bigger joke in the US. It’s all about who runs to the USPTO and gets an absurdly broad patent approved first. I’m wondering whether I should start a social networking site because Friendster just received a patent. RIM knows all about this game. It’s about showing face, although by suing Samsung, it’s providing free publicity and is cutting off its own nose to spite the face…

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