RIM is involved in another fight, and this time it isn’t another CEO catfight between Jim Balsillie and Steve Jobs.
They’re suing Waterloo start-up Kik, the popular mobile messaging service over a patent violation. Kik, which provides a service similar to RIM’s BBM service, complete with “sent,” “received” and “read” tags on messages, had their app pulled from the BlackBerry App World last month. It seems pretty likely that the patent suit is over these tags, although exact details haven’t come out yet.
In a blog post following RIM's decision to boot the app from its store, Kik CEO Ted Livingston noted the perceived similarities between his company's product and BBM.
“Some people have suggested that we’re “too similar” to RIM’s instant messaging product, and that somehow this is behind their decision. We would be surprised and disappointed if there is any truth to this, as RIM has always championed the BlackBerry ecosystem as an open platform. However, if true, the implications would go well beyond Kik to the entire mobile community, users and developers alike,” Mr. Livingston said.
VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall also covered the story, and he has an interesting take on what this lawsuit could mean for the future of RIM:
Here’s the bigger worry for RIM: With this move, is it inadvertently poisoning its own ecosystem? If people know they can work at RIM and then start a successful startup that rides on top of the BlackBerry platform, RIM becomes a more attractive place to work and BlackBerry becomes a more attractive platform to develop on. By making an example of Kik and its chief executive, Ted Livingston, a 23-year-old former strategist at BBM who set up shop across the street from its headquarters, RIM could be shooting itself in the foot for extremely questionable gain. Yes, RIM’s always been protective of its intellectual property, but as Apple’s iPhone and now more recently Google with its Android platform have shown, you have to leave something on the table for innovators to seize.
Details are still sketchy, but we’ll update as soon as we hear more.