RIM sues app maker over BlackBerry Messenger patent

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Thursday, December 2, 2010

TORONTO - After software giant Microsoft which is embroiled in a legal battle over Word patent, now BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) too is entangled in a patent battle.

The Canadian wireless giant has dragged a fast-growing app developer called Kik Interactive Ltd to court here for infringing on its wildly popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) which has more 30 million users.

Interestingly, both RIM and Kirk Interactive Ltd. are based at Waterloo near Toronto.

At the heart of the legal battle is Kik Messenger - a cross-platform instant messaging app - which is run by Kirk Interactive Ltd and has suddenly become very popular.

Kik Messenger is a smart-phone application that allows users to send instant messages on their BlackBerrys, iPhones and Google’s Android smart phones.

Kik Messenger has reportedly become an instant hit, garnering more than two million users within the first month of its launch.

But in its statement of claim filed in the local Federal Court this week against Kik Interactive Ltd, the BlackBerry maker says Kik Messenger infringes on its own BlackBerry Messenger.

It has also banished Kik’s app from its own BlackBerry app store.

In its court statement, the BlackBerry maker says that Kik CEO Ted Livingston worked at RIM at three different periods and then left to start his own instant-messaging app.

“Initially, to gain access to and integrate its applications with RIM’s BlackBerry infrastructure, the defendant (Ted Livingston) represented to RIM that it was developing a music-sharing device to integrate with the BlackBerry Messenger platform,” RIM says in its court filing this week.

“Instead the defendant created a cross-platform instant-messaging application for use with various smart-phone platforms,” according to the RIM statement.

The BlackBerry maker has further alleged that once the Kik app is installed on a BlackBerry smart phone, it accesses personal information without the user’s consent, thus violating all privacy laws.

“Kik unfairly benefited from its decision to unlawfully access and use the end users’ personal information as a means of driving the growth of its business,” according to RIM’s statement of claim.

But the Kik CEO has responded by posting on his website that “the company I shared our entire plan with every step of the way, is suing us. I’m not afraid. I’m not surprised. But I am disappointed.”

Unlike Kik which is a cross-platform messaging app, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) allows users to communicate only with

other BlackBerry users.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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