Research In Motion has won a critical court battle over the BlackBerry Messenger acronym BBM.
A judge dismissed a trademark infringement suit brought against RIM by BBM Canada, a broadcast measurement firm. BBM Canada has held the BBM acronym for 68 years.
“We are pleased that the Federal Court of Canada sided with RIM and confirmed that RIM’s use of BBM does not infringe the trademark rights of BBM Canada as they had alleged,” RIM spokesperson Tenille Kennedy said in a statement Thursday.
BBM Canada alleged that RIM’s use of BBM for its messenger service was “confusing customers,” but the judge dismissed it because the trademark only extended into the field of broadcast measurement services. Because the two fields are unalike, RIM will still be able to use BBM as an acronym.
RIM’s BBM services have more than 50 million users worldwide and remain one of the most popular aspects of the company’s business.
There’s no indication that BBM Canada is going to let the dismissal stand without a fight, however. Chief executive Jim MacLeod says that he has not decided whether his company will appeal, but he did refer to an ongoing battle.
“These things are skirmishes in the war, so I don’t know if this is over or not,” MacLeod said. “There was a huge marketing campaign and we started running into quite a bit of confusion…We call, and people think we’re calling from RIM. We always have our name on call display – I don’t want people to not pick up because they think we’re going to try to sell them a phone.”
BBM Canada was formerly known as the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement Canada. They are an audience measurement organization for Canadian programming on television and the radio. Established in 1944, the company changed its name to BBM Canada officially in 2001.
It’s hard to imagine confusion between what BBM Canada does and what BBM is, of course, but most lawsuits aren’t founded as the result of logical thought.
As if in a naïvely ironic parting shot to RIM, MacLeod said that the acronym isn’t as much of an issue as it was 18 months ago when the suit was launched. “It just kind of makes me wonder what value there is in a trademark,” MacLeod said. Indeed.