BlackBerry, CranBerry or Chuck Berry?

A Cape Cod tech company sued over use of the word "CranBerry"

One man's Cranberry is another's Blackberry

There's a funny tale wagging its way through the web about  the owners of  the famous BlackBerry PDA suing a Cape Cod company over its use of the name CranBerry. Here's the story as culled from several sources including Bloomberg,  The Globe & Mail , Metro and The Boston Globe.

Canadia's Research In Motion's long-running patent dispute in the U.S. with NTP Inc. seems to have given the BlackBerry maker a taste for the courtroom. It might even consider changing its name to File A Motion.

RIM was ordered to stop selling its BlackBerry device in the U.S. and pay NTP approximately $54 million in damages, but the company was recently granted a temporary reprieve, pending an appeal. RIM is fighting several other legal battles as well. It filed suit against Xerox Corp. last month to prevent the document technology company from demanding patent royalties. It is already involved in litigation with rival Good Technology Inc. over alleged stolen trade secrets.

Fruity names are the problem 

RIM is suing U.S. companies that have created brands, not PDA's, with similarly fruity names, claiming they could cause confusion in consumers' minds.

CranBerry on Cape CodBack Office One suit filed this month, according to the Bloomberg news service, is against a Massachusetts company, BackOffice Associates,  which has a software division called CranBerry, claiming the name "clearly intended to trade on the substantial goodwill that RIM has developed in its BlackBerry." This despite the fact that the Cape Cod company being sued doesn't even make a PDA.

An executive for the company, Back Office, denied the claim this week, adding: "We're a company based on Cape Cod. We've got cranberry bogs all over the place."

RIM has also sued Sakar International of Edison, NJ for using names such as StrawBerry and BlueBerry for its children's handheld devices. Sakar disputed the copying charge, but is changing the products' names to avoid a fight with the Canadian Colossus.  Sakar's lawyer Ezra Sutton said. "They don't own all berries. The berries describe the color. The company is making the change because we don't want to have a fight with BlackBerry. We feel a little sorry for them these days."

Finally yesterday's Boston Globe reported that RIM., facing a lawsuit that may halt US sales of its BlackBerry e-mail pagers, said it has finished an alternative technology designed not to infringe patents held by NTP Inc.

Whats next? 

As one story had it, "Coming to a courtroom near you: BlackBerry vs. Chuck Berry."

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