RIM Wins in BBM Trademark Infringement Case

By Joseph Mandour on June 1, 2012

cellphone_blackberry-thumb-200x150-37027California – Research in Motion (RIM), the creators of Blackberry, won a hard fought victory in court today over use of the BBM trademark.

BBM, or Blackberry Messenger, is an instant messaging application that is sold pre-installed with the Blackberry smart phone. Despite the well-known name and nature of the application here in the United States, the use of the trademark BBM was recently challenged by Canadian television giant BBM Canada. BBM Canada filed a trademark infringement lawsuit with the Canadian federal courts over the use by RIM of its long-used and trademarked name BBM. A cease-and-desist letter had been sent to RIM in 2010, but the letter failed to illicit the response that BBM Canada had anticipated.

In the current trademark case, the court determined that although the trademarked term BBM was owned by the Canadian television company, the two combatants operated in two different industries. And although BBM Canada had long standing ownership of the mark for over fifty years, RIM had not infringed on this ownership because of the fact that they used the trademark BBM in a distinctly different industry. Therefore, confusion among consumers was held to be unlikely.

The news of the win its current infringement case comes on the heels of an earlier trademark infringement case involving RIM and its Blackberry products. In the earlier case, RIM was forced to make changes to its soon to be released Blackberry 10 BBX Operating System. Basis International, the owner of the confusingly similar trademark BBX, sued RIM in Albuquerque, NM federal court to prevent the use of its trademark in RIM’s new product release. Blackberry was subsequently forced to make last minute changes to its operating systems and product release materials prior to its Blackberry 10 product launch.

This latest win against BBM Canada could not come at a better time for the beleaguered smart phone manufacturer. RIM has suffered an extremely difficult year with downturns in sales and layoffs resulting from product problems, including global outages and customer dissatisfaction. The latest round of Blackberry outages resulted in a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer and is not likely to be resolved any time soon.

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