Research in Motion has had a rough year, and now the company's signature product, BlackBerry Messenger, is being associated with the UK riots.

The company has seen its BlackBerry line of phones lose a big chunk of the smartphone market share.

It has been forced to lay off 2,000 employees to try to appease investors and jumpstart the slumping stock price.

It has also seen its two lead executives, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, come under fire as investors have asked for a change at the top of the company.

This makes its BlackBerry phones involvement in the London riots even more difficult for the Canadian technology company to swallow.

Media reports have indicated that British youths have been using their BlackBerrys and the phone's BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to plan out the vicious attacks and stay below the police's radar.

BlackBerry phones are quite popular with British teenagers, owning about 32 percent of the market share, due to their affordability. They are cheaper than iPhone or Android phone alternatives, and after buying a simple plan, users can exchange messages for free through BBM and not have to worry about SMS charges.

In addition to using social media mainstays Facebook and Twitter, British youth have been able to organize a lot of their moves through BBM groups.

While RIM was undoubtedly proud at one point of its large market share with British youth, it's doubtful that's the case now.

Instead, RIM is suffering a public relations fiasco that the troubled company really can't afford to suffer right now.

Let's be clear, no one is blaming RIM or BlackBerry for starting the riots -- it isn't the one lighting buses and stores on fire.

But guilt by association is the key here.

Another hit for RIM is the loss of cache it had with its BlackBerry phone line. In the United States, RIM has been known for its government contracts and popularity among businesses due to its easy usage and secure data services plans.

Now it is getting headlines for being the tool for the counter-culture.

Those secure data services, that the United States government and others love so much, are now being used to create anarchy and chaos.

Doubtful the company ever expected that to happen.

But what's particularly difficult for RIM is this precarious situation has backed it up against a wall. There have been calls for RIM to assist British police in tracking down some of the people behind the riots, though some have claimed it is a violation of privacy.

RIM agreed to assist British police, which some didn't take too well.

A group called TeaMp0isoN hacked RIM's official BlackBerry blog, labeled Inside BlackBerry, for its cooperation with police.

It posted a message on the blog saying:

"Dear Rim; You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all," it said. "The Police are looking to arrest as many people as possible to save themselves from embarrassment. ... If you do assist the police by giving them chat logs, gps locations, customer information & access to peoples BlackBerryMessengers you will regret it. ..."

The group also alleged that it had information on RIM employees and would release it to the public if the company shut down its BBM network in the United Kingdom.

It's created quite a lose-lose situation for RIM. It can fully cooperate with police and face more threats from hacking groups, or it can back off and take heat from the media for not being more proactive in trying to stop the riots.

It is likely to continue to help police and face whatever repercussions come from its involvement.

One thing is for certain though -- RIM likely can't wait for this nightmare of a year to be over.