The district court in Munich has ruled that Facebook is using
patented technologies that are the property of Blackberry (RIM).
Although these are not hugely significant technologically in the
application of their apps, it does affect everything Facebook has on the
market in Germany.
Millions of Germans use
Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook every day but may soon come to an end.
A total of nine patents embedded in the software Facebook is using are
owned by the Canadian company Blackberry. Facebook now has two options,
remove all apps from the German market or replace the offending
The apps are not yet banned but
Blackberry could provide a security deposit to the court (this is just
in case Facebook appeals and loses in which case the money would be
returned and replaced by Facebook). It is not a crazy amount considering
how rich Facebook is with the court asking for just 1-1.6 million
However, Facebook have already
responded stating that they will release updates with none of the
contested software within their Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and
Instagram apps. Facebook added that they will take the case to a higher
court as they believe the patents are not violated.
Munich district court specializes in patent law and explained that four
of Facebook's apps were in violation , namely WhatsApp, Facebook,
Facebook Messenger and Instagram. In court, lawyers fought over the
details of, for instance, sending one's entire chat history via email,
claims that some of the patents are actually used by iOS, whether it is
Apple that uses the patents and not Facebook, recommending friends
within the Facebook app and switching from one application to another.
was once the world's biggest mobile phone company but have since been
overtaken by the likes of Samsung, Huawei and Apple. This isn't stopping
Blackberry, which holds multiple patents from it's glory days, from
fighting for what it believes is right. This ruling will not be the last
since Blackberry is fighting Facebook worldwide on these and other
patent issues, so I am sure we will be hearing more about this in the
future. But how long might that be and why the delays.
application of the law can appear to be tedious slow and some legal
cases take longer than others. Take for instance when the German,
Spanish or any European Police Force wants to gather evidence from
Facebook chats or it's app or from WhatsApp contacts and messages etc.
they first need to go to court in Ireland! Why? Well, this is because
Facebook is incorporated in Ireland so that it can operate within the EU
but it has no datacenter in Germany, This means some cases up to 12
month just for the evidence gathering as Facebook won't give the data
upon request, in fact, it seems that selling data to third parties is
faster when it comes to Facebook ;)
European Union wants to change this now and is proposing a device called
E-Evidence. This is a new regulation which will make life easier for
Law authorities across Europe and will grant lawyers and courts the
power to contact Facebook directly without needing to go via the Irish
courts. This new power will extend to datacenters in both the USA and
Europe. The European Union explained that in around 85% of cases they
require evidence from electronic communication, but in 2/3rds of those
cases the data is held outside of their jurisdiction.
E-Evidence ruling goes back to the terror attacks in Brussels on the
22nd March 2016 when two men blew themselves up, one at the main airport
and the other the subway system.. More than 30 people died that day and
over 300 were injured. Following this the EU began a push to get better
access to potential evidence held on electronic communications, emails,
messengers and Facebook accounts. However, as there are currently 28
countries in the EU, it took almost 2 years to complete the first draft.
And agreement is required from all members before it can pass into law.
are a raft of issues at stake here.....the law as proposed could be
applied to any crime and any suspect, not just for terrorism. This
effectively means Facebook could be contacted and forced to comply not
matter the size or gravity of the case. Similarly. another key issue is
the use of GPS location date through WhatsApp chats, for instance, which
could tie a person to a location and make them a suspect without any
other corroborating evidence. A little knowledge in the wrong hands can
be a dangerous this such as with metadata where innocent people can be
profiled by sitting in the same bus as a terrorist or at the same
airport as a drug dealer.
There is also the
base issue that in some countries some of the items being proposed
aren't illegal. Germany, for example, is still against the E-Evidence
bill because of it's potential impact on the work of journalists or the
actions of activists.
So the question is
'can the 28 countries find common ground when it comes to the E-Evidence
draft and should this extend to include the USA