RIM Files Patent Suit Against Startup Kik

Research In
Motion is seeking to shut down Kik Interactive, a software startup
founded by a former employee whose cross-platform instant messaging
service rivals RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger.

Kik Messenger, much like RIM’s
Messenger, allows smartphone users to see when a message has been sent,
delivered, read and when it is being replied to in real-time.

But
while BBM, as the RIM product is popularly known, only allows
BlackBerry users to communicate with each other, Kik works across
platforms including Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android
operating system.

RIM has struggled
to entice software developers to build consumer applications for its
more corporate-focused devices, while BBM has been widely credited with
helping the BlackBerry maker attract a younger and more international
audience.

RIM filed a patent infringement suit in Federal Court in Toronto on Tuesday.

In
the court filing, obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, RIM said Kik’s
founder and chief executive, Ted Livingston, used knowledge gleaned
while working on development of BBM to create Kik Messenger.

It
sought injunctions against Kik to stop offering its service, a
declaration that three patents had been infringed and unspecified
damages.

In a brief response, Kik
— which is based in RIM’s home town of Waterloo, Ontario — called the
legal action "unjustified and disappointing" and said it "intends to
vigorously defend the lawsuit brought by RIM."

Livingston
worked for RIM as a systems engineer and a technical product
co-ordinator, according to his LinkedIn profile. He left the company in
December 2008.

Kik claims it has attracted 2.5 million users since October, including 1 million BlackBerry users.

RIM
initially allowed Kik to be distributed via its App World store but
removed it on November 12, saying later it had become aware of a breach
of contractual obligations.

The application is still available as a free app download for Apple and Android users.

In
its filing, RIM also said Kik had improperly collected personal
information from its users and then spammed their contacts to help grow
the business.

Livingston had
admitted that Kik was "based on a year of mobile psychology and purchase
behavior research conducted at RIM," the filing said.

Shares
of RIM were up 1.4 percent at $62.69 on Nasdaq and 0.6 percent higher
at C$63.64 on the Toronto Stock Exchange by mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

RIM is being represented by law firm McCarthy Tetrault.

The case is Federal Court file no. T-1996-10

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Rob Wilson)

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