BlackBerry sues Twitter for patent infringement

The complaint claims the social media giant diverted consumers away from BlackBerry’s products and services

The BlackBerry logo is displayed at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on February 27, 2019. Phone makers will focus on foldable screens and the introduction of blazing fast 5G wireless networks at the world's biggest mobile fair as they try to reverse a decline in sales of smartphones. / AFP / Josep LAGO

BlackBerry filed a patent infringement lawsuit accusing Twitter of illegally using technology in its mobile messaging applications that had been developed by the former smartphone maker.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, said Twitter wrongly sought to compensate for being a "relative latecomer" to mobile messaging by co-opting BlackBerry's inventions for such services as the main Twitter application and Twitter ads, infringing six of the company's patents.

Twitter "succeeded in diverting consumers away from BlackBerry's products and services" and toward its own by misappropriating features that made BlackBerry "a critical and commercial success in the first place", the complaint said.

A spokesman for Twitter declined to comment.

BlackBerry was an early provider of messaging services, including through BlackBerry Messenger, and was known for its mobile email devices.

But the phone maker lost traction as consumers shifted to Apple's iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy and other Android-based smartphones.

BlackBerry filed its complaint with the US District Court in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit resembles patent infringement cases that BlackBerry filed last March and April, against Facebook and Snap

In August, US District Judge George Wu allowed BlackBerry to pursue most of its infringement claims in those lawsuits, which according to court records remain pending.

Mr Wu may be assigned the case against Twitter because federal courts often assign cases deemed "related" to a single judge. The Facebook and Snap lawsuits were deemed related.

Since exiting smartphones in 2016, BlackBerry has shifted its focus to software that manage mobile devices and other areas including self-driving cars.