Canadian Company Sues RIM for BBM Trademark

Jennifer LeClaire, <a href=''></a>

As if Research In Motion needed another lump of coal in its Christmas stocking, the BlackBerry maker has received more bad news -- this time on the legal front. RIM may have to spend more money trying to ward off yet another trademark dispute.

Indeed, even as RIM is reeling from the forced name change of its next-generation operating system from BBX to BlackBerry 10, a Canadian company has taken issue with the name of its long-popular instant-messaging platform.

BlackBerry Messenger has been a RIM favorite, allowing BlackBerry users to send each other text messages and pictures through the RIM network and get delivery and read confirmation. Many users just call the service BBM for short, but BBM Canada is looking to Canadian federal court for a remedy.

BBM Canada Willing to Deal

According to a Reuters report, BBM Canada, a company somewhat like Nielsen in that it measures radio and television audiences, plans to argue its case against RIM in February. Jim MacLeod, BBM's CEO, told Reuters he wants RIM to stop advertising the BBM name. But MacLeod also suggested he would be willing to change BBM Canada name -- for a price.

"We have to be practical, they operate worldwide, we don't. But we're not prepared to just walk from our name," MacLeod told Reuters. "I'm sure to a really big company this looks like relatively small numbers, but to us it's a big deal. It's a trademark they don't even own, it's ours."

The timing is noteworthy. BlackBerry has been offering BBM for many years, but recently made a big splash in the RIM world when it rolled out BBM Music. BBM Music is a cloud-based music service for BlackBerry users. RIM was not immediately available for comment.

Should RIM Go Android?

Some are calling for RIM to sell itself, with Microsoft, Nokia and Amazon being named as potential suitors. But Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, says he doesn't know if RIM is sellable with its falling subscriber base. As he sees it, RIM needs two things: a leadership change and a strategy change.

"When people buy iPhone and Androids they buy them because they like the operating system. I don't think that's the case with RIM. People like RIM's handsets and the keyboard," he said. "If I were RIM, I would give up on QNX and put Android on the handsets and become a hardware vendor."

In a smartphone world where apps are vital, that strategy may hold wisdom. Developers are spending most of their attention on the iPhone and Android platforms, and the extra work it takes to build out an app for RIM isn't always worth the effort, especially with RIM's declining market share.

"RIM has lived and died this for so long. It's in their culture. That's why they need a new CEO. I am also not convinced that dual CEOs work anymore," Kerravala said. "RIM has grown to the point to where someone has to take control of that ship and the two guys together aren't doing well, so bringing in someone with Android experience, maybe even someone from Google, might make some sense."