BlackBerry files patent suit against Blu Products

BlackBerry filed two separate patent lawsuits this week against Blu Products, claiming the Florida-based handset manufacturer infringed on 15 patents.

The suits, which were filed in the Southern District of Florida, claim Blu continued to sell, import and market products that use BlackBerry’s technology without license even after BlackBerry offered to license them on FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms. The infringements are related to 2G, 3G and LTE technologies, BlackBerry said.

Blu is a relatively small player in the North American smartphone market, but it has attracted substantial attention with its R1 HD phone, which recently became the top-selling smartphone from Amazon. Amazon sells the device for $50 to Prime subscribers willing to accept ads and pre-installed Amazon apps on the handset.

A Blu representative told FierceWireless earlier this year that the company sells roughly 10 million smartphones a year globally, and around 35 percent of those are sold in the U.S. market through MVNOs, retailers and online outlets. Blu’s handsets are generally priced between $100 and $200.

BlackBerry, meanwhile, has moved aggressively into the patent licensing business as it struggles to elbow its way back into the smartphone market it once dominated. Earlier this year it launched a software licensing program for its mobility solutions business, introducing a suite of productivity and communications applications for Android devices. And it recently filed a patent lawsuit against Avaya, claiming the telephony firm infringed on eight U.S. patents.

BlackBerry recently posted a $670 million net loss in its first fiscal quarter of the year, including a $501 million write-down of its smartphone business. The company continues to pursue its ambitions in hardware, however, and last month it introduced its second Android-powered phone. As the recent lawsuits against Blu and Avaya make clear, though, BlackBerry is increasingly looking to leverage its patents in a competitive smartphone market.

For more:
- see this BlackBerry patent complaint
- read this PhoneArena report

Related articles
BlackBerry touts security features of new $299 Android phone
Amazon's $50 ad-subsidized Blu phone appears to be a hit
BlackBerry maintains focus on device profitability even as hardware revenues fall