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RIM wins court ruling over BBM brand


In the middle of a dismal week, Research In Motion Ltd. can point to at least one victory – this time, in court.

The BlackBerry-maker has won a Federal Court case over its use of the BBM acronym to describe its popular BlackBerry Messenger software. The lawsuit was filed by BBM Canada, a broadcast industry group that traces the BBM trademark back more than 60 years.

The case could have had cataclysmic repercussions on RIM's brand had the court not ruled in the company's favour. The BlackBerry Messenger software has become one of RIM's most popular features, with more than 50 million users worldwide.

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Although the trademark clearly belonged to BBM Canada, the court agreed with RIM that the two companies operate in different industries.

"We are pleased that the Federal Court of Canada sided with RIM and confirmed that RIM's use of BBM does not infringe the trademark rights of BBM Canada as they had alleged," RIM spokeswoman Tenille Kennedy said in a statement following the court ruling on Wednesday.

Jim MacLeod, president and chief executive officer of BBM Canada, said he has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.

The court victory comes as RIM wrestles with a litany of challenges. Earlier this week, the company announces it will probably post an operating loss when it releases its first-quarter numbers in late June. It is also likely RIM will slash thousands of jobs over the summer, as it weighs its strategic options and tries to cut costs.

RIM has not always been successful when it comes to trademark cases. Late last year, the company had to start referring to its new line of smartphones and its new mobile operating system as BlackBerry 10, after losing a trademark ruling over the use of the acronym BBX.

Mr. MacLeod said the confusion over the BBM acronym has caused his company many headaches.

"We call, and people think we're calling from RIM," he said. "We always have our name on call display – I don't want people to not pick up because they think we're going to try to sell them a phone."

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