RIM Shows What Not to Do with BBX Trademark Debacle

Lora Bentley
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Embedding Sound Risk Management Practices into an Organization

Core principles for risk management adoption within an organization.

It wasn't that long ago that Research In Motion learned it may have a problem with the BBX moniker it had selected for its new operating system. Basis International filed suit against the BlackBerry maker in October alleging trademark infringement. Basis has used the name since 1985 for "a set of tools and languages that help developers write programs for multiple operating systems." The company reportedly obtained a trademark on the name in 1995.


Last week a U.S. District Court agreed that RIM's use of the name would create confusion and granted a temporary restraining order to prevent the company from introducing the new operating system with the BBX name at a developer conference. According to PaidContent.org, shortly thereafter, RIM's Twitter feed indicated the operating system, Blackberry 10, would be unveiled at the conference.


Writer Tom Krazit calls the debacle "stunning," and says this year could be the most disastrous RIM has seen. He notes it's unclear whether the company's legal team didn't check to see whether the BBX name was already in use, or whether they thought they could "bluff their way through" any challenges.


Either way, it's certainly not a best practice from a risk management perspective. If I've said it once, I've said it hundreds of times in the last five years. Often the risk to a company's reputation can be worse than the financial ramifications of a particular course of action. What's more, the financial consequences of reputation damage will certainly add up over time. RIM is likely facing just such a situation.

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