BlackBerry Continues Its Shameful Descent Into Patent Trolling By Suing Twitter

from the those-who-can't-innovate,-litigate dept

BlackBerry (under its original name RIM) was always a bit of a patent troll. While it did have some early innovations in the mobile device space, and had popular actual products on the market for a while, it always had a habit of vindictively suing any company that seemed to be offering anything remotely similar to its products. Perhaps the company should have spent more time focused on its actual product rather than suing for patent infringement. Otherwise, its market share chart wouldn’t have looked like this, courtesy of Statista:

However, now that its business of selling actual products has bottomed out, it’s gone back to its earlier focus of suing totally random companies for doing fairly obvious things, and claiming that they violate Blackberry’s patents. Last year, we covered its silly lawsuit against Facebook that only got them hit with an equally silly countersuit from Facebook.

And now BlackBerry has sued Twitter as well (incredibly, TechCrunch — and nearly all other publications writing about this — did not actually post the filing, but you can find it here). The lawsuit is completely silly, and should be embarrassing and shameful for Blackberry and its high priced lawyers (who know better). It claims that it invented “mobile messaging” and that Twitter, as a “latecomer” to the market, has “diverted” people away from Blackberry.

BlackBerry Pioneers Mobile Messaging – BlackBerry has been a leading innovator in the field of mobile communications for the past 30 years, having invested substantial sums into research and development of communications technologies. BlackBerry?s innovations led to the commercialization of some of the earliest models of smartphones in the United States, enabling its users to, among other things, send and receive e-mails securely and surf the internet anytime and anywhere. These same innovations prompted the rise of the smartphone as a necessary everyday accessory for businesspersons and ordinary consumers alike.

One example of BlackBerry?s innovations is the BlackBerry Messenger technology, which revolutionized instant messaging by providing users with secure, user-friendly, point-to-point instant messaging on their mobile devices. In many respects, through BlackBerry Messenger and other research and development, BlackBerry helped pioneer modern mobile messaging?secure, instant and user friendly on a mobile device. The appeal and success of BlackBerry Messenger led consumers to consider instant messaging functionality as an integral aspect of mobile communications, resulting today in billions of people worldwide engaging in instant messaging over their mobile devices.

Lots of folks developed mobile messaging, mostly by taking fairly obvious cues from existing computer messaging and email, which was created decades earlier, often borrowing from other types of messages, like the physical mail. There was no magic invention in taking messaging “mobile” that deserves any sort of patent. But then to suggest that Twitter “copied” Blackberry is laughable as well:

Defendant, on the other hand, is a relative latecomer to the mobile messaging world. Defendant created mobile messaging applications that co-opt BlackBerry?s innovations, using a number of the innovative user interface and functionality enhancing features that made BlackBerry?s products such a critical and commercial success in the first place.

Even more insane: claiming that Twitter’s messaging features somehow drive users away from Blackberry — a company whose business dried up for tons of reasons having absolutely nothing to do with Twitter.

Defendant?s use of BlackBerry?s inventions, and infringement of the Patents-in-Suit, has succeeded in diverting consumers away from BlackBerry?s products and services and toward those of Defendant. This has resulted in a substantial and undeserved windfall for Defendant as these users drive Defendant?s revenue. Defendant?s gain comes at BlackBerry?s expense, depriving BlackBerry of revenue to which it is entitled as a result of its inventions.

Oh come on, Blackberry. Don’t make me laugh. Actually, clearly, Blackberry does want me to have a good chuckle, because check out these “innovations” it claims are oh so precious and unique to Blackberry:

User Interface Improvements For Mobile Devices?including (i) improvements in message notification techniques that streamline and optimize reception of new message notifications that prevent users from being inundated with numerous messaging notifications, (ii) resetting a new message indicator when a user accesses their inbox list of messaging conversations, which saves users from having to individually view each conversation in which there is a new message in order to reset their new message indicator;

(b) Messaging and Social Networking Improvements for Mobile Devices? including (i) improved techniques for determining whether a recipient has read messages in a conversation by inferring the status of one or more of the messages, thereby reducing data transmissions, power consumption and improving battery life in mobile devices, and (ii) improved techniques for making informational content, selected by one user, available to one or more other users via a data hub server that avoids users having to download and reupload content that they wish to share, thereby reducing unnecessary data transmissions, power consumption and improving battery life in mobile devices; and

(c) Mobile Advertising?improved techniques of delivering targeted advertising and content to mobile devices based on user demographics and interest, as well as the location of the user?s mobile device and time-based triggers.

If you don’t want to read that wall of text, Blackberry’s big inventions — which it claims Twitter copied and is using to deprive it of tons of income — are:

  1. New message notifications
  2. Resetting the new message indicator when someone checks their inbox
  3. Message read status
  4. Server hosting to make sharing messages easier without having to upload
  5. Mobile advertising

Really? To argue that all of these are (1) patent worthy (2) non-obvious and (3) key revenue or even usage drivers is literally crazy. Someone go check in on the folks at Blackberry and their lawyers to make sure they’re still in touch with reality. This is an obnoxious patent trolling experience, and Blackberry should be embarrassed. If you want to look at the actual patents in this suit they are:

I hope that Twitter gets each and every one of these patents invalidated and people continue to shun and mock BlackBerry for being an obnoxious patent troll, spitefully suing others for innovating where it fell down on the job and flopped.

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Companies: blackberry, twitter

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Comments on “BlackBerry Continues Its Shameful Descent Into Patent Trolling By Suing Twitter”

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35 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That is the goal of patent trolling(‘Doesn’t matter if we’d lose, we can cut and run whenever we want, so you’d best pay up to make us go away or you’ll be paying even more just to fight.’), so I’m sure that’s what Blackberry is hoping for, but hopefully Twitter takes a cue from Newegg and makes clear that if Blackberry is going to get a cent for them they’re going to have to work for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I Think theres plenty of prior art about messaging on mobile devices .And theres loads of programs that used servers on pcs to run various messaging apps .
Will some company take the time to prove those patents
are probably invalid ,
Its a sign of a company in decline when it resorts to suing other companys over basic obvious features ,
Its probably going after twitter because it has an app that is used
on mobile devices .
Theres no sign of apple suing random companys because it
concentrates on making new innovative products
that provide an easy to use os for consumers .
Blackberry was mainly aimed at business users who needed
a secure messaging service ,
it did not adapt when android and apple came to market
with powerful devices that were easy to use
and gave the public acess to 1000.s of apps .
Its like nokia it was left behind in the market
by other phones which were more powerful and
easier to use by consumers .

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Theres no sign of apple suing random companies?

"Theres no sign of apple suing random companys because it
concentrates on making new innovative products…"?

Au contraire. Apple has a long history of this sort of nonsense, which goes back far enough to pre-date the IBM 5150 desktop PC.

In the pre-IBM PC days, the Apple ][ was one of the more popular desktop computers, largely because there few other viable options. It attracted a lot of clones, which attracted a lot of patent litigation from Apple. Eventually the market went almost entirely to PC clones and the Apple ][ is now long forgotten; the IBM PC (introduced 1981) contained little or nothing patent-worthy (so could be cloned, once a third-party BIOS existed) but the Apple was a proprietary nightmare.

Anonymous Coward says:

Twitter’s functionality isn’t much different than a traditional message forum except each user has their own "forum" under their username to post that people can reply to. It has built-in private messaging functionality which would be closer to something like Blackberry’s person-to-person messaging, but private messaging as part of a web forum’s functionality has been been around forever and is not itself much different than email (just email that’s website specific for user to user direct contact).

Long story short, Blackberry is full of shit and should be forced to pay Twitter’s court costs.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Really?

If you don’t want to read that wall of text, Blackberry’s big inventions — which it claims Twitter copied and is using to deprive it of tons of income — are:

New message notifications
Resetting the new message indicator when someone checks their inbox
Message read status
Server hosting to make sharing messages easier without having to upload
Mobile advertising

This reads like gmail, but on mobile! Yeah – real original. @_@

Anonymous Coward says:

Rim didnt just invent messaging, they invented mobile messaging. Prior to RIM mobile human beings were unable to communicate messages. If you wanted to talk to someone, you had to set your feet in concrete. It was a very cumbersome process. So RIM came up with a completely novel way of communicating, by not setting your feet in concrete.

Do you remember what life was like before rim invented mobile keyboards? Apple had the clickwheel, you had to scroll around until you got to the letter, then you hit ok, and moved the cursor. Again very cumbersome, with the rim invention, they put each letter on a separate key. It was incredibly novel, the time savings were immense and businesses couldnt get enough of this new keyboard. Revolutionary concept.

These guys arent patent trolls, they are innovators. How big was twitter in 2006? How big are they now? Obviosly they cannibalized blackberry with their mobile phones that were a complete ripff of the rim phones. Have you seen the keyboards you can use with twitter? Their just a giant version of the rim keyboard, total ripoff.

Btw, do you think the attorneys working at blackberry got rim jobs?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: rim.jobs

I believe Blackberry did register the domain ‘rim.jobs’ just to prevent anyone else from grabbing the name. I doubt they ever hosted any content on it.

Perhaps they should have been sued for this, as the word "jobs" is (or should be) a trademark of Steve Jobs, who was an Apple boy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Obviously Uneducated

Does anyone here actually know anything about patent law?

It sounds rather bizarre to read that nothing in a given field COULD be patentable. That sounds similar to saying that everything that COULD be invented has already been invented. It makes no sense at all.

The only way to evaluate a patent claim is to first identify the claim, and then to "map" the claim language to a correspondence between the patent body at the product at issue.

It makes absolutely no sense to criticize a patent based on it’s field of invention. Look at the claim. Map it to an infringing product. If that looks believable, validate the teaching sufficiency in the patent body, then look at prior art that identifies EVERY element of the claim. If you can’t find it, then argue that those elements that were not identified in prior art are obvious.

Then win or lose your argument based on the merits.

"There was no magic invention in taking messaging "mobile" that deserves any sort of patent."

Really? Nothing? Ever? You’re sure about that? Even without even considering the actual claim language, or the actual patent body, or the actual prior art?

No reason for a court of law at all, then, right? We’ll just take your word for it.

This sounds bizarre.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Obviously Uneducated

So look I will even try to help you in your cause to invalidate these patents. Looking at the first patent listed above, I see the date "2001-07-23 Priority to US30726501P"

So you need to identify prior at before July 23 2001.

Then, there are two groups of claims, one based on a method and one that describes a server.

Maybe because you think it is so obvious that these claims are invalid, you can cite the prior art for just these two claims of just this one patent. That might save everyone a lot of time and be a useful service to the community.

It’s not many words and you seem so sure of yourself, so cite away:

  1. A method for pushing information to a mobile device, the method comprising:
    detecting a triggering event comprising a time triggering event;

determining, by a server, information relevant to the detected triggering event from among information stored in one of a plurality of memory location channels, wherein the information is stored in the one of the plurality of memory location channels based on a category of the information matching a pre-defined category of the one of the plurality of memory location channels;

when the information relevant to the detected triggering event comprises content information, inserting to the content information, by the server, a meta tag for one or more advertisements to be displayed with the content information, wherein the meta tag identifies the one or more advertisements and advertisement display requirements, and wherein the one or more advertisements are selected based on the detected triggering event; and

transmitting the content information that includes the meta tag to the mobile device.

  1. A server, comprising:
    a database organized into a plurality of memory location channels, each of the memory location channels storing information of a same category as a pre-defined category of each of the respective memory location channels,

wherein upon detection of

a triggering event comprising a time triggering event, determining the information relevant to the detected triggering event from among information stored in one of the plurality of memory location channels of the database, when the information relevant to the detected triggering event comprises content information, inserting into the content information a meta tag for one or more advertisements to be displayed with the content information, and transmitting the content information that includes the meta tag to a mobile device,

wherein the meta tag identifies the one or more advertisements and advertisement display requirements, and wherein the one or more advertisements are selected based on the detected triggering event.

John85851 (profile) says:

Disbar the lawyers

I hope that Twitter gets each and every one of these patents invalidated… and the lawyers disbarred for starting a case like this.

As I’ve said a few times, the lawyers either:
1) Don’t know the law, in which case they shouldn’t be filing the court case.
2) Do know the law, but they’re being paid by their client not to care about it and file the court case.

I think these kinds of cases will quickly get stopped if the lawyers start getting threatened with disbarment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Disbar the lawyers

Tell me again what is wrong with the case .. are the patents bad? Are they all bad, all the patents, all the claims? Or is there no infringement? Is there no validity? Is that true for all 6 patents?

I totally concur that there are a lot of shady attorneys, but what is it about this case that would call for disbarment?

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