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Court bans apps from Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram in Germany

Last updated on March 9, 2021

08.12.2019, 09:28 am

The smartphone apps of Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook in their current form violate patents that Blackberry holds. The Munich district court has therefore decided that Facebook may no longer offer these apps in Germany.

The Canadian software company Blackberry has prevailed with patent lawsuits in a total of nine cases against Facebook. Thus, Facebook may no longer offer the apps Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and Facebook Messenger in their current form in Germany.

“The judgments banned the supply and delivery of the aforementioned applications in the FRG for use in the FRG, as far as they use the patent patents,” said the spokeswoman of the district court. Facebook can comply with the ban by the apps “no longer offers and delivers or previously modified so that the specifically attacked functionality is changed.”

Blackberry could enforce the ban

Although the judgment is not yet final, the court declared it “provisionally enforceable”. Thus, the Canadians enforce the ban with force. For this purpose, Blackberry would have to either deposit an amount between one and 1.6 million euros per application for a ban or give a guarantee to Facebook as security. The deposit or guarantee ensures the case that Blackberry does not prevail in the lawsuit at the end.

Facebook was not worried and said they might appeal, but in no way stop providing apps. In the meantime, the Federal Patent Court has challenged the validity of the patents underlying the judgment and is waiting for the appropriate decision.

In the event that Blackberry wants to enforce the ban, there are already updates ready that would remove the offending features from the affected apps, a Facebook spokesman made clear. In any case, these are just a few specific components.

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Dispute concerns technical details

In fact, it had gone in court to very small-scale operations. For example, there was a dispute over whether Whatsapp would use a technique for sending a chat history via e-mail to third parties, on which Blackberry holds a patent. It was also disputed which parts of this process are performed by Whatsapp and which of the iOS operating system. In the latter case would be responsible not Facebook, but Apple as the manufacturer of the iOS operating system.

Blackberry operates worldwide proceedings against Facebook

Blackberry is also running similar lawsuits against Facebook in other parts of the world. It is not clear what the company ultimately wants to achieve with these lawsuits. That it is all about money, denies the Canadian company again and again. On the other hand, what Blackberry outside the Pekuniären would have it, if in Instagram about the chat function would be turned off, remains questionable.

In the meantime, Facebook had turned the tables and in turn sued Blackberry for breaching five patents. The process is still running.

Conclusion: Blackberry gets right, but has none of it

Since Facebook has already prepared for its own information software updates that remove the offending features from the apps, Blackberry here gets a Pyrrhic victory. Enforcement would only be possible with a lot of money and would not bring anything.

Since the disputes are apparently in technical marginalia, Facebook will also not want to license technologies from Blackberry. What remains is a busy judiciary and a judgment without practical relevance.