BlackBerry sues Ryan Seacrest's 'Typo' iPhone keyboard case company over 'blatant' copying

BlackBerry sues Ryan Seacrest's 'Typo' iPhone keyboard case company over 'blatant' copying

Summary: BlackBerry wants to hold on to its killer designs for itself — even if nobody else seems to want the keyboard-enabled smartphone anymore.

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TOPICS: Smartphones, Patents
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iphone-keyboard
(Image: CNET)

First it was Alicia Keys getting the can from the former smartphone making bigshot. Now it's Ryan Seacrest lined up in BlackBerry's sights.

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BlackBerry continues to clean house with Alicia Keys signing off

BlackBerry continues to clean house with Alicia Keys signing off

Did anyone remember (or even know in the first place) that the singer was the "creative director" for the phone maker?

Either BlackBerry is gearing up for a war on celebrities, or the Waterloo, Ontario-based company is less than pleased at the idea of bringing a former killer feature of the keyboard-enabled smartphone to a rival device.

It's probably the latter.

BlackBerry announced Friday it has filed a lawsuit against Typo Products, founded by media star and former CNET TV personality Ryan Seacrest, which promises to bring a BlackBerry-style keyboard case to the iPhone.

The company said the complaint alleges patent infringement, noting that the Typo case "blatantly copied" BlackBerry's keyboard with its iPhone keyboard case designed to make typing on the Apple touchscreen smartphone easier. (Check sister site CNET's hands-on with the case). 

BlackBerry general counsel and chief legal officer Steve Zipperstein said in a prepared statement that the smartphone maker will "vigorously protect our intellectual property against any company that attempts to copy our unique design."

Interestingly, Zipperstein said the company was "flattered" by the desire to enable other smartphones with a BlackBerry-style keyboard, but added that it would "not tolerate" any such activity without fair compensation.

Typo was founded by Seacrest and entrepreneur Laurence Hallier. The keyboard is pegged for pre-order this month after first debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.

Topics: Smartphones, Patents

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13 comments
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  • Why not?

    If Apple can sue others for just the shape of the rectangular phone, then hell yes why cannot Blackberry sue for the keyboard copying which looks exactly like BB.
    sachadon
    • BB is justified.

      The keyboard is a blatant copy of the Bold.

      Seriously, just look at the chrome lines between the key layers.

      Other than the bottom row, everything else is pretty-much identical.
      ForeverCookie
      • So BB Owns the QWERTY Keyboard Patent????

        I think not... although it does look similar, there are many others on the market that do similar to what this product does.
        Jim Holiko
        • Depends what their patents are

          As shown with Apple - some of these patents can cover a wide range. So yes Blackberry could have patents for how a mobile keyboard looks and functions.
          MobileAdmin
      • Also the geometry of the keys

        I would consider the geometry of the keys to be far more indicative of how derivative the Typo case is; comparing the Typo keyboard to the Q10's, each of the keys has a particular curvature to it, with a ridge on the right side keys that I would say resembles y=(2 x)^(0.5) on the unit square, and a horizontal reflection of that for the left side keys. It would be difficult to copy it more blatantly.

        Still, the product itself would be useless if it couldn't sell to Blackberry fans -- look at the "About us" section and you'll find the product is specifically designed to replace BB devices used only for the keyboard. Despite the fact that they're essentially stealing BB's intellectual property, I do have to sympathize with them, since they did design a product that appears to be useful, grafting the sole advantage of BB devices over one of the larger weaknesses of the iPhone.
        KiteX3
    • Two wrongs make a right?

      So if it's wrong for Apple to sue over the shape of a phone, it's right for Blackberry to sue because somebody else is making a physical keyboard?
      markbyrn
      • Live by the patent troll....

        Die by the patent troll. Like it or not competition by litigation is the new norm. And looking at that adapter it looks just like a blackberry keyboard to me.
        mikedees
    • I am amazed at how many people don't understand design patents.

      It just astounds me and so then they propagate another internet myth.
      Bruizer
  • Why not?

    If Apple can sue others for just the shape of the rectangular phone, then yes why BB cannot sue for the keyboard copying which looks exactly like BB.
    sachadon
  • Maybe

    the creator of the original QWERTY keyboard should sue Blackberry for copying their keyboard?
    madferret9
  • I should sue..

    I should sue the creator of life for the last 4 that were just taken from me....
    deftdrummer
  • Which patent??

    Reading the BB complaint ...
    Its the STYLE of the keyboard that's at issue not the FACT that its a keyboard.

    That ought to be easy to adjust out of court...

    Anyone got a link to the patent?
    P0l0nium
  • I just wish I could get one cheap.

    A self confessed lover of the BB 9800 but had to give it up when I was put on BES10. Personally I'd use one on my Z10 as its great to have both options. There's no doubt its far easier to type in the back of a moving taxi etc, with a real keyboard. Single handed... its a must!

    I know this one will be specific to iPhone dimensions but I think I'd use it on my iPhone5 for the same reasons above. I like a keyboard; I'm using one now and have no desire to type on a screen if I have an option not to.
    johnmckay