Mobile hardware and software maker BlackBerry has officially brought suit against Facebook and its subsidiaries, including Instagram and Whatsapp, on the grounds that they have violated the company's intellectual property in regards to the design and function of messaging apps. BlackBerry's complaints are far-reaching in the messaging app ecosystem, and cover a number of features that debuted or were perfected in BlackBerry Messenger, and went on to go into just about every messaging app out there. BlackBerry has chosen to zoom in on Facebook in its complaints, it says, because the social media giant and its subsidiaries, Instagram and WhatsApp, have not only profited from feature ideas that belong to BlackBerry, but have driven customers away from BlackBerry products in the process.
Among BlackBerry's complaints, one can see features that clearly entered the consumer mindset and became integral during their time in BBM, such as notification badges and time stamps on messages both incoming and outgoing. There are also some arguably more dubious features listed in the complaints; BlackBerry alleges, for example, that it originated the idea of tagging friends and family in photos on social media, a feature that is generally thought to have risen into popularity due to Facebook's emphasis on it. Another feature that BlackBerry claims for its own is encryption to keep user data secure. While BBM was easily the most popular encrypted or encryptable messenger before the privacy boom following Edward Snowden's revelations about United States Government organizations spying on citizens, ways to send and receive encrypted messages via a computer and even a mobile device have existed since long before BBM rose to prominence.
Facebook, for its part, is essentially accusing BlackBerry of patent trolling. According to Facebook Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal, "Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, Blackberry is now looking to tax the innovation of others." Facebook does intend to go into court against BlackBerry in this matter. While BlackBerry's complaints do contain a number of valid points, it's hard to deny that Facebook has deeper pockets with which to fund a legal battle, and quite likely has consumer mindshare on its side, somewhat discrediting BlackBerry's allegations that the BBM features it touts would have been its saving grace if not for Facebook and its ilk.