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BlackBerry suing Ryan Seacrest-backed Typo in dispute over keyboard design

The Typo keyboard iPhone accessory caught the attention of quite a number of people – including BlackBerry lawyers by the looks of it – when it first appeared on tech sites last month.

The Canadian mobile maker claims Typo Products, a company co-founded by entertainment personality Ryan Seacrest, has copied the distinctive design of the physical keyboard found on many of its handsets, including one of its most recent phones, the Q10. As a result, it’s decided to sue.

q10 typo

Spot the difference: The Q10’s on the left.

The $99 keyboard case is set to debut at this week’s CES in Las Vegas and will start shipping later this month. It’s been designed for those who’d prefer a physical keyboard to the iPhone’s on-screen offering, with the company behind it claiming it helps reduce typos.

Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s general counsel and chief legal officer, called Typo Product’s new keyboard case a “blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard,” adding that the Canadian company intends to “vigorously protect” its intellectual property against any company that attempts to copy its “unique design.”

Zipperstein continued: “From the beginning, BlackBerry has always focused on offering an exceptional typing experience that combines a great design with ergonomic excellence. We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations.”

‘Years of development and research’

Typo Products over the weekend acknowledged BlackBerry’s lawsuit, but said the claims of the Canadian company “lack merit” and that it intends to “defend the case vigorously.” 

“We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research,” the LA-based company said. “The Typo keyboard has garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. We are also looking forward to our product launch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week and remain on track to begin shipping pre-orders at the end of January.”

Seacrest is thought to have invested around a million dollars in Typo Products, with reported plans to invest a further $5 million in the development of other keyboard-related products.

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