BlackBerry Maker Sues Samsung Over 'BlackJack' Smart Phone

The maker of BlackBerry mobile devices is suing the maker of the new "BlackJack" smart phone, charging Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. with trademark infringement.

The suit brought by Research in Motion Ltd. (RIMM) in U.S. Distinct Court for Central California alleges that "Samsung's use of the name `BlackJack' in connection with a smartphone" amounts to "unfair competition and trademark dilution."

The BlackJack was introduced last month in the United States by Cingular Wireless, which also happens to be the single largest purveyor of BlackBerry devices and e-mail service.

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Like a growing number of advanced cell phones, the BlackJack features a full "QWERTY" keyboard for thumb typing messages, a concept first popularized by the BlackBerry.

A Samsung spokesman said the Korean company does not comment on pending legal matters. Cingular also declined comment on the suit, saying only that it continues to sell both devices.

Samsung introduced a very similar device to the BlackJack earlier this year in Britain through Vodafone Group PLC (VOD) under a different brand name, the i600.

In its suit, filed Friday, RIM suggested it was no accident that Samsung used a different name overseas, where BlackBerry is less popular, and then chose the BlackJack name for the market where BlackBerry is best known.

Though nearly identical in shape and size, there are differences between the i600 and the BlackJack: the i600, for example, is equipped with two built-in cameras, on the front and one on the back; the BlackJack has one.

"The BlackJack device was designed specifically for the U.S. market," said Kim Titus, a Samsung spokesman. "There is a device [overseas] that has a similar form factor but has different functionality."

RIM's suit also suggested that Samsung chose the BlackJack to take advantage of the recent launch a BlackBerry device called the Pearl that is similarly small and also black in color.

"The overall look of the BlackJack smartphone is highly similar to RIM's BlackBerry Pearl smartphone," the suit said, noting that the two devices are very close in weight and dimensions.

The suit also argues that Samsung approved a national Cingular ad campaign for the BlackJack that "capitalizes on the design similarities" and "has resulted in confusion" with the Pearl.