updated 10:00 am EST, Fri February 11, 2011
Kik files counterclaim against RIM in fight
Kik this week responded to RIM's patent lawsuit with a counterclaim of its own (PDF). The messaging app startup denied infringing on any of RIM's patents and further accused it of being jealous of competition to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). The "overnight success" of Kik led RIM to contradict its own enthusiastic support of Kik, suddenly breaking agreements and pulling the app from BlackBerry App World despite celebrating it just months earlier.
"Senior executives at RIM caused RIM to embark on a campaign to destroy or seriously harm Kik," the company said, "including unilaterally terminating the various agreements between Kik and RIM, suspending and then removing Kik Messenger from BlackBerry App World and commencing this lawsuit, including a meritless patent infringement claim which RIM knew had no realistic chance of success."
Kik denied that the company CEO Ted Livingston ever had access to the BlackBerry Messenger code while he worked at RIM and couldn't have copied it directly, even while he was a Project Coordinator for the group. It also pointed to what it believes are prior art examples, including Microsoft's Office 2000 suite, that would invalidate RIM's claims to start.
RIM hasn't commented publicly on the new defense.
The accusations were expected but still have significant ramifications for RIM. The BlackBerry maker allows non-App World installs and has usually had looser app policies than a company like Apple, but Kik's allegations would have it deliberately shutting out a developer simply because it could reduce the need for a BlackBerry. Kik provides text messaging that behaves similarly to BBM but isn't tied to the BlackBerry, running both on Android and iOS as well.
Many have seen Kik as a way to wean BlackBerry users off of BBM as they switch to the iPhone or Android. [via David Lam]