Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blackjack v BlackBerry?

Having been on the wrong end of a more than half a billion dollar settlement in the patent dispute with NTP, RIM have decided to get active with their own IP lawyers in the trademark arena and have reportedly sued Samsung for "false designation of origin, unfair competition and trademark dilution." They believe that Samsung's "BlackJack" phone is too similar to the BlackBerry and the name might confuse some people. That will be a fun case to watch. Whilst I had a lot of sympathy with their plight in the NTP dispute - after all NTP were just a patent holding company and didn't make or deliver any products or services - I can't see that sympathy extending to a case of attempting to gain proprietary control of the word "black". Remember though that various courts found the NTP patent, which could have led to the shutting down of BlackBerry services in the US, to be valid. So the law was on NTP's side in that case. RIM in this case have to do more than prove that the law might be on their side.

I recognise that the case will be a bit more complicated than this initial report would make it appear and the detailed facts will, no doubt, be interesting. In the end though this comes down to controlling or owning the word "black" in a particular context and the onus is on RIM from my perspective to fully justify their stance.

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