BlackBerry Sues Avaya For Patent Infringement

As a business, BlackBerry has seen a massive amount of change in the smartphone industry. The company has had to evolve and reinvent itself, having invested a significant sum into a new operating system platform for smartphones that has failed to attract much market share. The company has recently officially announced their second Android-powered model, the BlackBerry DTEK50. The company has considerable expertise in the mobile security arena but has significant technologies in other areas of communications. To this end, the company filed a lawsuit against technology company, Avaya, at the end of last week. The filing in the Northern District of Texas claims that Avaya infringed eight of BlackBerry's American parents associated with a number of different mobile communications technologies, originally filed between 1998 and 2011. The Canadian smartphone and software company states that Avaya infringes these patents by using, without authorization, the technology in "unified communications products and software, networking products (such as switches and routers), communication servers and client software, telepresence systems, softphones and deskphones, and software for mobile device communications." In detail, these patents apply to video coding and decoding, 'phone tracking, voice encoding and the ability to connect multiple devices to the one number.

BlackBerry's document lodged with the court weighs in at 115 pages long. In this, BlackBerry point out that they wrote to Avaya in December 2015 to highlight the infringements. We do not know is Avaya responded or if the two companies started licensing negotiations, which have now broken down. However, BlackBerry's Chief Executive Officer, John Chen, has repeatedly explained how BlackBerry have a substantial patent portfolio of around 44,000, which they consider to be one of the youngest in the business. BlackBerry consider their patent portfolio to be a means of generating income and earlier this year explained on a market earnings call that he is not interested in selling patents, but is interested in licensing them. This followed a sale of patents late 2015 to Centerbridge Partners for up to $50 million. BlackBerry have signed agreements with Cisco, Canon, International Game Technology and at least one other company. BlackBerry earns royalties from each of these deals.

BlackBerry's information includes how Avaya use their office in northern Texas as a nationwide "hub for manager services" and as a data center. The document also highlights that Avaya provide the Texas Department of Information Resources, the Texas education industry and the University of Texas Health Services, with technology products. Given that the Canadian business has invested $5.5 billion into research in the last five years and it has formed agreements with other businesses, BlackBerry is keen to protect its patent technologies and of course, its considerable investment over the years.

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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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