The two companies both filed near duplicate arguments against BlackBerry’s patent lawsuits.
Facebook and Snap have found themselves the target of patent infringement lawsuits from BlackBerry. Last week, both companies submitted motions to have BlackBerry’s patents invalidated, and thus end the lawsuits. Oddly enough, it seems as if the companies may have been looking over each other’s shoulders as both the motions are near duplicates of each other.
The primary arguments which the companies are stating is that BlackBerry’s patents are abstract concepts, in that they explain the achieved results, while not describing the method for getting there. The secondary argument, is that these concepts are things that had been done prior to BlackBerry.
Now, I fully admit that I am biased in favor of BlackBerry. I also have no law experience whatsoever. However, it seems that most know that BlackBerry was the creator of much of what we consider basic smartphone functionality today. Neither Facebook, Snap, or even Google and Apple were making smartphones while BlackBerry was creating the category. When building a category, and when there is little to no competition in that category, I could easily see why patents would be applied for and granted for concepts as opposed to methods. There is also no denying that the majority of these concepts are utilized by Facebook and Snap in methods which are identical to how the concept’s creator, BlackBerry was using them. Are these facts enough to hold up in court? I have no idea, but we will eventually find out.
The second argument I tend to find much greater fault with. The argument is that these concepts were being used before BlackBerry? Where was this taking place? Manually, with people taking messages for other’s with notes, and apparently writing down how many messages they had on these notes. One motion even goes so far as to utilize customer service kiosks as an example of how these concepts were in practice before BlackBerry. They are not talking about mobile devices, or even electronic means. This seems very far fetched to me. It seems that this argument could easily be used to discount any Facebook or Snap patents. After all, we all used to hang around in groups in the real world before Facebook. We all experienced someone showing us vacation pictures we really didn’t want to see when we all got together.
It appears that these lawsuits will take a lot of legal wrangling, and I doubt that we will see any definite conclusion in the near future. I am anxious to see BlackBerry’s response.
If you would like to read the motions yourself, The Register has made both suits available in as PDFs. You can find Facebook’s heavily redacted (what are you hiding Facebook?) version here and Snap’s version here.