Home No More “BBX”: Trademark Dispute Reveals Strange RIM Stance

No More “BBX”: Trademark Dispute Reveals Strange RIM Stance

A temporary restraining order issued by a federal court in Albuquerque on behalf of a software company that produces a version of BASIC, has compelled Research In Motion to start calling the next version of its operating system for BlackBerry smartphones “BlackBerry 10.” This according to a tweet from the company’s official Twitter feed.

The name BBx (albeit with a small “x”) is being used by Basis Software of Albuquerque as a trademark for its Business BASIC language interpreter, which is a classic language interpreter capable of extending business logic established over the previous decades to a platform that reaches smartphones, including BlackBerrys. Perhaps the most startling element of this case came from RIM, whose U.S.-based subsidiary had claimed in court, according to the judge’s ruling, that the Singapore developers’ conference to which the restraining order applies is not all that important to anyone in America.

“RIM argues that its alleged conduct would have an insufficient effect on United States commerce to grant an injunction,” reads Judge William P. Johnson’s ruling yesterday, “pointing out that the upcoming Singapore conference is intended to serve customers in Asia and that only several of the 700 people who will be attending the conference will be from the United States. RIM also contends that the conference will not be broadcast live, and any references on the Internet to the conference will not have the required significant effect on commerce.”

By contrast, Judge Johnson went on, Basis Software argued that it would be naïve for RIM or anyone else to assume that the effect of an Asia developers’ conference would be limited to Asia. “The Court agrees with this assessment,” he wrote, “finding it somewhat ironic that the very nature of the disputed software product is making world-wide dissemination of information more easily accessible than before.”

“BlackBerry 10” was a name that had been bandied about in the press and elsewhere as a likely name for its completely new operating system, which was previewed last October in San Francisco. The new system represents a developmental dead-end for BB OS 9, whose architecture could not adequately be extended to the emerging tablet market that RIM must also cover, preferably not with a separate OS as is the case with today’s PlayBook.

One of the developmental hurdles the next BlackBerry system continues to face – one for which developers worldwide will indeed be looking to Singapore for clues to a solution – concerns a key element of its authentication mechanism. Historically, BlackBerry users have been associated with single phones, with the understanding that it wouldn’t make sense for someone to own two or three mobile phones. The emergence of the tablet changes all that. Today, for a PlayBook tablet to access a BlackBerry user’s account, it must be tethered to a physical BlackBerry phone, a connection which the manufacturer (unsuccessfully) tried to market as fun and exciting.

Another hurdle concerns the new system’s identity, the name change for which may (just as ironically) reveal the limited effect it may have on the consumer mindset.

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