RIM’s Infringement Case Helping the Blackberry Brand?


They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity and that could be the case with RIM and their legal issues with NTP. Even though this case has been going on for about 4-5 years it has recently been catching major eyeballs during the past few months when an injunction looked more likely. Every night there seems to be a mention of the Blackberry in the evening news or another article in the Wall Street Journal is printed. You can’t buy this type of exposure.

One possible reason why this case has garnered so much attention over other patent infringement case is that an injunction on Blackberry service affects a wide spectrum of people, including the journalists that report on the case. Investors follow the case because they themselves use a Blackberry and the outcome of the case has major ramifications on RIM’s stock and other companies that have stake in push email. Geeks and technologist follow the case because it has an affect on the future of patents in the US.

While other companies have tried to jump on RIM’s legal misfortunes by positioning themselves as an alternative incase of a Blackberry shutdown it still doesn’t help because they will always be comparing themselves to the ‘Blackberry’, in turn making the Blackberry brand even stronger. According to Brandweek, the Blackberry brand placed 6th in a survey of 21,000 consumers for brand awareness, a huge jump considering that the Blackberry didn’t even place last year.

In a recent NBA game telecast, they had a shot of the team’s GM using a Palm Treo but the announcer called it a Blackberry instead. This is a RIM’s marketers’ wet dream, where their brand has become synonymous with handheld and email devices. But we should always look at the past for a history lesson, especially in technology. History has taught us that branding is not the end-all-be-all, just need to look at the Apple Newton or even the Palm PDAs.