The popular social media platform, has sued BlackBerry for an alleged patent infringement. Facebook claims, in its complaint, filed in San Francisco federal court, that BlackBerry is infringing on several patented processes and technologies surrounding voice messaging, how a mobile device delivers graphics, and the tracking and analysis of GPS data. In total, Facebook is asking for unspecified damages for infringement of six patents.

A patent infringement is a limited monopoly granted to an inventor by the federal government for his or her invention. A patent gives the patent owner (or “patentee”) the right to exclude others from using his patented invention without his or her permission. If a patent is infringed, the patentee may sue for relief in the appropriate Federal court. The patentee may ask the court for an injunction to prevent the continuation of the infringement and may also ask the court for an award of damages because of the infringement. In such an infringement suit, the defendant may raise the question of the validity of the patent, which is then decided by the court. The defendant may also aver that what is being done does not constitute infringement.

In the complaint, Facebook claims that the infringements have “caused and will continue to cause damage” to the company’s Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps.

It is important, and quite humorous to note that this is coming just months (March 2018 precisely) after BlackBerry sued Facebook for infringing on BlackBerry messaging app patents. The core of BlackBerry’s complaint, which is a sprawling 117 pages, is that the company’s proprietary and patent-protected messaging product, BlackBerry Messenger, known colloquially as BBM, was a cornerstone of modern mobile communications. Basically, BlackBerry claimed Facebook made unauthorised use of its technology in its own instant messenger service, Facebook Messenger, and in WhatsApp Messenger and Instagram.

However, in the present, Facebook has cited infringement of patented technology that improves how a mobile device delivers graphics, video and audio and another that centralises tracking and analysis of GPS data.
Some of these patents include, inter alia

US Patent No. 8,429,231 (acquired from AOL)

Systems and techniques for transferring electronic data include enabling instant messaging communication between a sender an at least one recipient through an instant messaging host.

US Patent No. 7,567,575 (acquired from AT&T)

A method for providing multimedia data from at least one controllable multimedia source to a mobile device includes providing a request path from the mobile device to a mobile service platform, receiving a request from the mobile device, obtaining a device profile from the mobile device, authenticating the identity of a user of the mobile device, and determining a user profile in response to the user identity.

The direction of this lawsuit, and the earlier lawsuit is yet to be determined, but an intelligent guess is that Facebook’s lawsuit against BlackBerry will be brought down if BlackBerry pulls down its suit against Facebook.


Joshua Faleti is a 400 Level Law student at the University of Ibadan. He’s passionate about Intellectual Property and Space Law

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