TORONTO (Reuters) – Research In Motion is seeking to shut down Kik Interactive, a software startup founded by a former employee whose cross-platform instant messaging service rivals RIM's BlackBerry Messenger.
Kik Messenger, much like RIM's Messenger, allows smartphone users to see when a message has been sent, delivered, read and when it is being replied to in real-time.
But while BBM, as the RIM product is popularly known, only allows BlackBerry users to communicate with each other, Kik works across platforms including Apple's iPhone and devices running Google's Android operating system.
RIM has struggled to entice software developers to build consumer applications for its more corporate-focused devices, while BBM has been widely credited with helping the BlackBerry maker attract a younger and more international audience.
RIM filed a patent infringement suit in Federal Court in Toronto on Tuesday.
In the court filing, obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, RIM said Kik's founder and chief executive, Ted Livingston, used knowledge gleaned while working on development of BBM to create Kik Messenger.
It sought injunctions against Kik to stop offering its service, a declaration that three patents had been infringed and unspecified damages.
In a brief response, Kik -- which is based in RIM's home town of Waterloo, Ontario -- called the legal action "unjustified and disappointing" and said it "intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit brought by RIM."
Livingston worked for RIM as a systems engineer and a technical product co-ordinator, according to his LinkedIn profile. He left the company in December 2008.
Kik claims it has attracted 2.5 million users since October, including 1 million BlackBerry users.
RIM initially allowed Kik to be distributed via its App World store but removed it on November 12, saying later it had become aware of a breach of contractual obligations.
The application is still available as a free app download for Apple and Android users.
In its filing, RIM also said Kik had improperly collected personal information from its users and then spammed their contacts to help grow the business.
Livingston had admitted that Kik was "based on a year of mobile psychology and purchase behavior research conducted at RIM," the filing said.
Shares of RIM were up 1.4 percent at $62.69 on Nasdaq and 0.6 percent higher at C$63.64 on the Toronto Stock Exchange by mid-afternoon on Wednesday.
RIM is being represented by law firm McCarthy Tetrault.
The case is Federal Court file no. T-1996-10
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Rob Wilson)