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BlackBerry maker sues Handspring over thumb-keyboard patent

Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry PDA, has sued rival company Handspring, alleging that Handspring’s Treo Communicator series infringes a RIM patent covering “unique” keyboard features.20 Sep 2002

The patent in question was filed in July and granted on Tuesday. It covers “a hand-held electronic device with a keyboard optimised for use with the thumbs.” RIM alleges that Handspring’s Treo series, featuring a small keyboard that can be used with thumbs, is “remarkably similar” to the keyboard in the RIM BlackBerry Wireless Handheld devices.

In the lawsuit, RIM asks for a declaration that Handspring infringes the patent, a court order to forbid sales of the Treo, and unspecified damages.

RIM also sued rival company Good Technology for alleged misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, unfair competition, civil conspiracy and other alleged offences. It is the fourth lawsuit that RIM has filed against the company, whose software is designed to run on RIM devices.