Facebook's family of messaging apps are extremely popular around the world, connecting millions of users. Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp together command a record number of user base, but soon these apps could be banned entirely in an important market over a legal scuffle.
Facebook recently lost a patent infringement case to BlackBerry, which could result in three most popular messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, getting banned in Germany. BlackBerry dragged the social media giant to the court for infringing its patent and the court had ruled in the favour of the Canadian company in nine cases.
"By the judgments, the offer and delivery of the aforementioned applications in the FRG are prohibited as far as they use the patent patents," a spokesperson for the court said in a statement, GizmoChina reported.
The functions of Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp infringe upon BlackBerry patents. But Facebook could find an alternative to the ban as it plans to rebuild the functions of the apps in question.
"We plan to adapt our products accordingly so that we can continue to offer them in Germany," Facebook was quoted as saying.
Clearly, Facebook won't let its most popular messaging apps off the grid in Germany. Instead, it could find ways to avoid the ban by licensing the patents in question or rebuild all the three apps for Germany to avoid a legal discourse.
Germany & the challenges
Germany hasn't been the easiest markets for Facebook. Besides the fact that Facebook is losing users in Germany faster than expected, according to a research, the country's cartel office Bundeskartellamt had imposed restrictions on Facebook in the way it processes user data earlier this year. Facebook was restricted from forcing its users to agree to the unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts.
"Users are often unaware of this flow of data and cannot prevent it if they want to use the services. We need to be rigorous in tackling the abuse of power that comes with data," Germany's justice minister, Katarina Barley, had said at the time.
Facebook expressed its intention to appeal Bundeskartellamt's conclusions and Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook saying its popularity is not dominance. Facebook managed to block Germany FCO's order against combining user data, which was seen as a major victory for the social media giant against regulators.