Struggling also-ran Canadian maker of mobile phones, Blackberry (formerly, RIM), has quite a long history with patents. A decade ago, RIM actually was extremely aggressive
in suing other companies for patent infringement. In fact, it can be reasonably argued that this was actually the beginning of the company's downfall. RIM had a somewhat dominant position in the early part of the 2000s, and then started suing pretty much every competitor (and lots of non-competitors) for patent infringement. In turn, that resulted in a bunch of other companies suing RIM
, including the infamous case of the patent troll NTP, who eventually got $612.5 million
out of RIM after a tremendously high-profile, years-long lawsuit that brought patent trolling to the attention of both the public and lawmakers. Of course, the guys behind NTP have admitted they only sued RIM after reading about its aggressive patent strategy first. But, more importantly, it seems clear that the aggressive lawsuits, both inbound and outbound, resulted in the company taking its eyes off the innovation ball, allowing basically everyone else to leapfrog way past it.
As the company has been basically falling apart, we've fully expected it to go full on patent troll
. After all, that's pretty much what you expect of legacy companies who've lost in the marketplace and can no longer figure out how to innovate. Instead, they basically start to litigate against anyone and everyone -- and RIM/Blackberry already has that sort of trait in its DNA anyway.
So it's little surprise to hear that the company has launched a silly lawsuit against Typo Products
, a company formed (of all things) by TV personality Ryan Seacrest and others, creating a physical keyboard that can attach to the iPhone 5. Blackberry claims the company "blatantly copied Blackberry's keyboard." But, it's a keyboard
. There are only so many ways you can make it, and honestly, if Blackberry wasn't so focused on lawsuits all these years, perhaps it could have realized years ago that maybe it should have been making physical keyboards for the smartphones that the public actually seemed to want.