RIM's latest misstep: Its new BBX name is already taken

A small New Mexico company claims that RIM is courting customer "confusion" over its own "BBx" software.

Mike Laziridis
Mike Laziridis addresses the crowd at BlackBerry DevCon 2011, when he unveiled the BBX name. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Research in Motion's new BBX operating system isn't even out yet, and it's already facing a bit of legal heat. A small Albuquerque, N.M.-based software provider, Basis International, claims "BBx" is the name of a software platform that it has already trademarked.

RIM unveiled the BBX platform --which combines elements of its older BlackBerry operating system with its next-generation QNX software--at the company's developer conference on Tuesday. The company is hoping that BBX and its advanced capabilities can vault it back into the smartphone game, putting it on a more equal footing with the iPhone and Android smartphones. The name dispute, however, adds a wrinkle in RIM's attempt to make a comeback.

Basis said in a statement that it was taking "swift, legal action" to protect itself. CEO Nico Spence told Reuters that the company's patent attorney has sent a cease and desist letter to RIM requesting a response by October 31.

"We are fielding numerous customer inquiries voicing their confusion about the RIM announcement," Spence said in a statement on the Basis website. The company uses the BBx prefix in products that run on Windows, Linux and Mac.

RIM, meanwhile, said it has not yet received a complaint from Basis.

"We do not believe the marks are confusing, particularly since our respective companies are in different lines of business," the company said in a statement issued to CNET.

It's another hiccup for beleaguered RIM, a company that has suffered some significant setbacks over the past year. Over the past few months, the company has seen its stock plunge on concerns that it has lost its way in the smartphone market. The most recent issue was a global service outage that left some people without e-mail access for as many as three days.

Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis opened the developer conference by reiterating an apology for the outage.

Disputes over naming rights are common. Apple's iPhone, for instance, used a trademark initially owned by Cisco Systems, forcing Apple to reach an agreement with the networking titan before it could use the name.

Basis, meanwhile, added that its platform of software could actually benefit RIM.

"Ironically, BASIS' BBx may aid RIM in its quest to grab a share of the application market for mobile devices in that any application created with BASIS' BBx for the Android or iOS mobile devices will also run on BlackBerry products," Spence said.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.


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