Forget BBX: RIM Faces Legal Woes Over BBM Trademark

I swear, it never ends — not long after a U.S. court passed down a judgment that saw RIM change the name of their new operating system, the company has once again gotten themselves into a tiff over trademarks. This time, the name in question is “BBM,” RIM’s preferred shorthand for their popular BlackBerry Messenger service.

The lawsuit comes courtesy of BBM Canada, a not-for-profit broadcast and audience measurement organization that’s been in business considerably longer than RIM has. Originally known as the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement, the group was originally founded in 1944 and took on the BBM moniker in 2001 — well before RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger service came to be.

RIM has gotten quite a bit of mileage out of BBM, and went on an advertising spree a while back in order to drum up some public interest for it. While using the BBM mark is totally admissible here in the States, the company filed for and was denied a trademark for BBM in their native Canada.

“We want our name back,” said BBM Canada CEO Jim MacLeod. “I find it kind of amazing that this wouldn’t have been thought about before they decided to use the name. The same thing goes for BBX.”

MacLeod seems strangely apologetic about the whole thing — he has made efforts to accomodate the much larger company, even going so far as offering to rebrand the group entirely in order to avoid making a scene. Those overtures were met with silence from RIM, which has led to the sticky situation these companies are embroiled in.

RIM hasn’t yet responded to these allegations, but when they do, I imagine that they’ll say there’s no conflict since both companies operate in different fields. Then again, since they tried that line during the BBX case to no avail, RIM’s legal team may need to work out a different approach. If this sort of thing keeps up, the company runs the risk of looking, well, incompetent. And really, the last thing RIM needs now is for their top brass to look foolish, lest their stock price take (another) dive.