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Facebook flogs dead horse. By flog, we mean sues. And by horse, we mean BlackBerry

Online ad giant returns fire in bid to use IP freely

Facebook is suing BlackBerry for alleged patent infringement six months after BlackBerry sued Facebook for alleged patent infringement.

In a complaint filed in a US district court in San Francisco, California, on Tuesday, Facebook claimed that the Canadian messaging biz has ripped off six of its patents.

Facebook's patents cover voice instant messaging, personalized media services on a mobile device, a GPS management system, computer security, user-configured phone service, and operating a trusted state computer system.

The intellectual property was acquired from other firms, a common practice among fast-rising internet companies that need to build patent arsenals to defend against incumbents with lots of intellectual property. Some date back almost twenty years:

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.

US Patent No. 6,356,841 (acquired from BellSouth)

A management system using Global Positioning System receivers for tracking remote units from a central office and quickly and conveniently determining if those remote units have varied from a set of predetermined parameters of operation.

US Patent No. 7,228,432 (acquired from HP)

A method and apparatus for providing security for a computer system, which includes generating a request for a file.

US Patent No. 6,744,759 (acquired from 3Com)

A system and method for providing user-configured telephone service to a user of a data network telephone.

US Patent No. 7,302,698 (acquired from HP)

A computing entity comprises a trusted monitoring component having a first processing means and a first memory means, the trusted monitoring component being a self-contained autonomous data processing unit, and a computer platform having a main processing means and a main memory area, along with a plurality of associated physical and logical resources such as peripheral devices including printers, modems, application programs, operating systems and the like.

Facebook is suing BlackBerry over seemingly trivial innovations. Its voice instant messaging patent, for example, covers a method for determining whether a device in an instant messaging conversation supports voice calls.

But the quality of the patents isn't really the issue. The goal of Facebook's complaint is to pressure BlackBerry to make peace and to make continued aggression expensive.

In response to BlackBerry's lawsuit in March, Paul Grewal, Facebook's deputy general counsel, issued a statement linking the litigation to BlackBerry's bungled business. "Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, BlackBerry is now looking to tax the innovation of others," he said.

Since falling behind in the smartphone market, BlackBerry has tried to boost its revenue by forcing other companies to license its patents. In recent years, it has settled patent claims against Avaya, Blu and Cisco, and struck intellectual property licensing deals with other firms.

IP licensing and "other" accounted for 33 per cent of the $193mn software and services revenue the company reported in June for its fiscal Q1 2019. CEO John Chen told analysts at the time that BlackBerry expects to earn more than $100m this year from licensing.

Neither Facebook nor BlackBerry responded to requests for comment. ®

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