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RIM's BlackJack Defense

Research In Motion's (RIMM) much talked about smartphone, BlackBerry Pearl, is in danger of losing its luster.

The Pearl has received rave reviews for multimedia capability that brings together a camera, email, and music and video playback, packaging it in a slim, hip design.

But rival Samsung's BlackJack phone, with its strong marketing and reviews, could steal its thunder.

BlackJack, which is being offered in the U.S. only by Cingular, has been burning up the airwaves with its catchy commercial. The latest television spot for the BlackJack, set to some very interesting music, shows off the phone like a deck of cards, emphasizing its thinness and its many functions.

It's an effective campaign, and consumers who don't know better could almost mistake it for the BlackBerry Pearl.

And that's exactly why RIM is worried. On Dec. 8, RIM filed a lawsuit against the South Korean electronics giant over the use of the name "BlackJack" in connection with a smartphone.

RIM and Samsung declined to comment. But in its complaint, RIM has said the name is trademark dilution.

There may be more to that lawsuit than just trademark issues. "The action by RIM is an indication that the BlackJack is selling well with Cingular. And it is certainly a prominent part of Cingular's ad campaign," says Lawrence Harris, an analyst with Oppenheimer, which does not have a banking relationship or own shares of RIM.

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