BlackBerry Ltd. and Facebook Inc. have agreed to settle a patent infringement lawsuit, nearly two-and-a-half years after the former smartphone pioneer alleged the social-media giant had co-opted its innovations in numerous messaging apps.
The Waterloo, Ont., company told a California court on Thursday to drop its infringement case against Facebook as the two worked toward a global settlement agreement for patents, including one for a mechanism that makes data transmission between mobile devices more energy-efficient.
BlackBerry’s Toronto-listed shares climbed 8.9 per cent Friday to close at $12.48. They’ve risen 30.7 per cent in the past five days.
Though BlackBerry has shifted its focus in recent years to secure data transmission, it remains Canada’s largest patent holder, and many of those patents are still connected with smartphone and messaging technology.
The decision comes after news this week that BlackBerry had sold 90 patents to controversial Chinese technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. amid a broader push to sell its trove of intellectual property.
In BlackBerry’s 2018 complaint, the company alleged Facebook and subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram had also co-opted message encryption techniques and message-notification details for mobile devices, such as the way timestamps are displayed. Such innovations, the complaint said, “made BlackBerry’s products such a critical and commercial success in the first place.”
Later that year, Facebook filed its own patent complaint against BlackBerry, arguing it had infringed on several of Facebook’s patents, applying to functions such as voice instant messaging.
BlackBerry spokesperson Karen Clyne said in an e-mail Friday, “We have resolved our disputes pursuant to a confidential agreement and have no further comment.” Facebook also declined to comment.
BlackBerry Messenger was one of the signature messaging apps of the early smartphone era. Many consumers loved that it could show when a recipient had viewed a message.
But as the company struggled for market share amid the rise of Apple’s iPhone and Google Android-powered phones, the technology also became a wedge between BlackBerry executives, including long-time co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.
Mr. Balsillie wanted to sell it as the next generation of text messaging to a wide range of carriers; Mr. Lazaridis felt the expenditures would be too high. Both men stepped down in 2012, marking the end of a tumultuous few years for the company, and it later departed the smartphone market entirely.
Facebook has since become home to several of the world’s most dominant messaging platforms, especially since it spent US$19-billion to buy WhatsApp in 2014.
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