RIM Sends Message to Kik by Filing Lawsuit

Two weeks ago, a BlackBerry Messenger lookalike was banned by Research In Motion from its app store, and now RIM is sending a more serious message by filing a lawsuit against Waterloo, Ontario-based Kik, claiming patent infringement.

The lawsuit is bad timing for the small start-up, which was quickly gaining momentum. After its debut in November, it took just two weeks to generate two million downloads across BlackBerry, Android and iPhone. The free app allows users to send messages without paying text messaging fees and works across multiple platforms, unlike RIM’s own popular BlackBerry Messenger service, which is restricted to its own platform.

Worse yet, we heard Kik’s overnight success earlier this month drew the attention of several VCs, who were lining up with their checkbooks open and ready. It’s not clear if Kik was able to close that round before the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Canada’s Federal Court, but you can be sure that VCs will be über-vigorous in evaluating the company’s technology and any potential patents if a fight against RIM is in the works. To be sure, it will need the cash for legal fees alone.

The lawsuit was first spotted by David Lam, a lawyer in Ontario, Canada, who reported the electronic filing on his blog. Further details about RIM’s claims were unavailable, and we’ve reached out to both RIM and Kik for comment. UPDATE: In a blog post, Kik confirmed that it received the lawsuit yesterday. The company’s founder, Ted Livington, who worked at RIM as a student, writes: “I’m not afraid. I’m not surprised. But I am disappointed.”

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