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.

Filed Under: messaging, patent trolling, patents
Companies: blackberry, twitter


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:44pm

    KILL IT, KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!
    And invalidate its fscking patents to make sure it doesn't rise up again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:51pm

    Some minor settlement could be the outcome here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:00pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 12:58pm

    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 .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      scotts13 (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 3:33pm

      Re:

      Heck, I remember using wireless email on an Apple Newton in the 90's. Seemed to to do most everything they're complaining about. May have been an Apple prototype (at least the wireless adapter) but that shouldn't matter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 5:25pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:07pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:16pm

    Obvious

    Hey, if they can hold a patent on keyboards why can't they own messenger services too?

    Lawsuits In Motion:
    https://gizmodo.com/blackberrys-war-against-ryan-secreasts-typo-keyboard-is-1686386918

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:39pm

    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. @_@

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lolno, 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:40pm

    Sad that our Canadian tech darling has sunk to this

    Pretty depressing that once a pretty impressive force for R&D and manufacturing in Canada has become this. Clearly the current exec staff at Blackberry has no shame. Selling their name for use on other peoples phones was bad enough but this is pathetic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:50pm

    Oh i see what they did there - instead of "but on a computer" or "but on the internet", RIM apparently invented IRC - but on a mobile device.

    And of all the players whom one might troll over person-to-person instant messaging, they pick... Twitter?

    what is this i don't even

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 2:01pm

    Well, I guess that's the kind of company that you're likely to be left with, after being slammed in the the NTP "patent infringement" decision ($630 million -- for patents that couldn't survive review).

    Perhaps Blackberry learned the lesson it was taught?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 2:43pm

    Whoa

    I didn't even think black berry was still a thing considering how badly they had driven their business into the ground.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bobvious, 6 Mar 2019 @ 2:53pm

      Re: Whoa

      Yes. They hired Darl McBride as their new Chief Strategist.

      Next week they're revealing the new charge of $699 per running app.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 5:07pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 5:29pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 6:14pm

      Re:

      I wanted to flag this, but I'm pretty sure this is a sarcastic post given the last line. So it's funny.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    toi hell with twitter, 6 Mar 2019 @ 5:11pm

    hope twitter gets bent right over

    hope Twitter gets bent right over

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:30pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 9:50pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Mar 2019 @ 10:38pm

        Re: Re: Obviously Uneducated

        Four points on this:

        1. "Prior art" is not the only point to invalidate a patent, obviousness to those skilled in the art would also invalidate it. And this is the problem with most patent obsessed attorneys. They think that just because something wasn't done before it's not obvious. But the REALITY is that usually the reason something wasn't done before was that the rest of the tech ecosystem wasn't in place for it yet. But if you were to set up a bunch of engineers, and tell them to create "mobile messaging" there are really only a few ways to do that. And they're all "obvious" to people working on this stuff. THis is the part that is most frustrating. Patent lawyers haven't the slightest fucking clue how actual technology development works.

        2. Nothing in what's described in the patent claim that you choose here appears to be particularly different than regular cloud email. The only thing here is "... on a mobile device." And merely adding "on a mobile device" shouldn't make something patentable, just as "on the internet" shouldn't make something patentable.

        3. Post-Alice (finally!) such "generic" claims are supposed to be invalidated. Look at that claim again. That is clearly the kind of claim that Alice has invalidated.

        4. I mean, really? Is this the hill you want to die on? Get beyond your shitty patent obsessed hole and let's talk reality. Do you honestly think that without Blackberry, Twitter would never have created a feature for users messaging each other. Be honest. Do you honestly think that anyone at Twitter thought they were "copying" RIM in adding such an obvious system for messaging users?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2019 @ 10:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: Obviously Uneducated

          OK so no prior art. Keep in mind this priority date is 2001, and the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

          "appears to be particularly different than regular cloud email". What "regular cloud email" are you referring to?

          "generic claims are supposed to be invalidated". Not sure I'm following you.

          "hill to die on"? What? I was trying to point you in a direction that had some actual credibility.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 12:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously Uneducated

            And I would just add to this response that your statement "Get beyond your shitty patent obsessed hole" does nothing in terms of actual argument. It is consistent with your writing style over the years, but come on, "shitty patent obsessed hole"? Are you proud of that as an argument to present in public? If that is the best argument you can muster, perhaps you should rethink your position before you publicly embarrass yourself further.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 5:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously Uneducated

              "Do you honestly think that without Blackberry, Twitter would never have created a feature for users messaging each other."

              I wonder what this has to do with anything? Patents encourage inventors to document their inventions thoroughly, so they become (basically) public property in the future. Assuming the invention is useful enough for someone to be fighting about it, then whether or not someone else could later develop such an invention (especially after seeing it) is of no consequence. What is of consequence is whether the inventor met the burden that the government imposes regarding patents, and then to some degree how expensive it becomes for the inventor to enforce those rights.

              Tell me again how obvious this whole patent was in 2001.. and throw in at least one reference to "regular cloud Email" from 2001 that implement the features claimed in the patent.

              Or maybe you should be honest - and say you don't know what you're talking about, and never have.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 6:44pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously Uneducated

                Defaulted to replying to yourself again, have we Hamilton?

                Whatever you'd like to know about regular cloud email, I'll tell you this: Shiva Ayyadurai didn't invent it. Whoops!

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 9:37pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously Uneducated

                  I just don't understand the premise of the whole article. We should be thanking Blackberry for taking the time to create these patents, they have invested in the public good by disclosing what they believed to be new inventions. Good for them. The first patent on your list is cited by 245 other patents, and they are likely cited by tens of thousands more. They made the investment to document and disclose many details of the (at the time) advanced systems that they developed. We should be celebrating their investment in the US patent system, not criticizing them for it.

                  I just think it's crazy that the socialist loudsmouths here can advocate for paying people who don't feel like working (ala the "Green New Deal") while simultaneously throwing extreme shade on the most inventive people who work the hardest to share their creations with society.

                  Hint: If your argument depends on the words "shit" and "hole", you are either MM or Stephen T. Stone (they do sound similar don't they?). Fecal matter is not persuasive of anything other than your own bad manners.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 7 Mar 2019 @ 8:49am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously Uneducated

            Keep in mind this priority date is 2001, and the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

            What does the iPhone have to do with it? That was far from the first smartphone.

            What "regular cloud email" are you referring to?

            Perhaps Hotmail (1996).

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outlook.com

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 7 Mar 2019 @ 7:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Obviously Uneducated

          "Prior art" is not the only point to invalidate a patent, obviousness to those skilled in the art would also invalidate it.

          My understanding is that, in patent law, obviousness presupposes prior art. USPTO:

          35 U.S.C. 103 Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter

          A patent for a claimed invention may not be obtained, notwithstanding that the claimed invention is not identically disclosed as set forth in section 102, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains. Patentability shall not be negated by the manner in which the invention was made.

          Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103 Conditions for patentability; nonobvious subject matter

          (a) A patent may not be obtained though the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in section 102, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains. Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    rakul, 7 Mar 2019 @ 4:23am

    Atleast now they should think innovative

    Whatever happened already is done and we have to focus on coming future. In the same way, blackberry should think innovative atleast from now and come up with new features that other phones are not having.
    Best Regards,
    https://ghdsportsapk.ooo/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 7 Mar 2019 @ 10:12am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2019 @ 9:53pm

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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