BlackBerry Limited has long been proud of its messaging app—so much so that it's now suing Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp subdivisions for ripping off key features. The Verge notes a "sprawling" 117-page complaint filed Tuesday for patent infringement, alleging that hallmark innovations of BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM—including cryptographic security features, user interface enhancements such as message notifications and photo tagging, and gaming/messaging efficiencies—somehow found their way into the hands of the defendants, which the suit calls "relative latecomers to the mobile messenging world." This theft of intellectual property, the complaint claims, "has succeeded in diverting consumers away from BlackBerry's products and services and toward those of Defendants," which it says "has resulted in a substantial and undeserved windfall for Defendants."
Ars Technica, which details BlackBerry's "remarkably broad" patents, adds the company got out of making hardware in 2016; its smartphones are now made by Chinese firm TCL, while it focuses on mobile security and software products. Bloomberg notes the suit "might seem strange," as phone messaging apps are now "ubiquitous" and share many of the same features. A BlackBerry rep tells Reuters the suit came only after longtime negotiations and because the company owed it to shareholders to protect its technology. Cheddar reporter Alex Heath, who initially said BlackBerry's suit felt "desperate and completely out of left field," tweeted out a statement Tuesday from Facebook, which notes "Blackberry's suit sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business. Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, Blackberry is now looking to tax the innovation of others. We intend to fight." (Is BlackBerry trying to make a comeback?)