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

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

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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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.