Blackberry suing Typo Products over keyboard design

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Date: Monday, January 6th, 2014, 10:53
Category: Accessory, Cases, Hardware, iPhone, Legal, Mobile Phone, Patents, User Interface


In the litigious world of  tech companies who scramble daily to protect their patents and intellectual property, you can expect anything claiming to be new and innovative to be hit by a roomful of lawyers saying it isn’t true. Such is the case with the Typo Keyboard case which was getting ready to launch at this week’s CES event in Las Vegas. Typo Products, which was founded by Ryan Seacrest and his business partner Laurence Hallier, was hit with a lawsuit from Blackberry claiming copyright infringement of Blackberry’s own keyboard design.

In a statement from Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s general counsel and chief legal officer;

“This is a blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard, and we will vigorously protect our intellectual property against any company that attempts to copy our unique design,”.

As it happens, one of the reasons stated by Typo as the incentive to create the keyboard case was that Seacrest and others were tired of carrying around a Blackberry, as well as a second smartphone, just for the advantage of having a physical keyboard. Blackberry’s claims may have some merit. When compared with the keyboard on Blackberry’s Q10 smartphone (shown in image), the Typo version does bear a striking resemblance to the button design and overall look of the Q10’s keyboard. So the question comes down to how much of a keyboard’s design can be copyrighted or considered intellectual property. Typo doesn’t seem to be too worried though. On Saturday they issued a statement saying;

“We are aware of the lawsuit that Blackberry filed against Typo Products. Although we respect Blackberry and its intellectual property, we believe that Blackberry’s claims against Typo lack merit and we intend to defend the case vigorously. We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research,”

Typo goes on to say that they will continue with their launch at CES this week as scheduled. Blackberry has been having some well publicized trouble with huge losses in the last couple of years as a result of the smartphone wars, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they aren’t taking any chances with anything that might infringe upon the proprietary “look and feel” of their products. At first glance I’d say that Blackberry has a pretty good case for establishing the design similarities, but we’ll have to wait and see if the courts agree, and what kind of ramifications this has for both companies.

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