Ryan Seacrest’s Typo startup hits back over keyboard-related BlackBerry lawsuit

When entertainment personality Ryan Seacrest put down a million bucks of his hard-earned readies for the development of a BlackBerry-like keyboard for the iPhone, one wonders if he thought beforehand that the Canadian mobile company would simply take a quick look and say “Hey, that’s pretty neat.”

Shortly before the $99 Typo keyboard debuted at CES last month, lawyers for BlackBerry announced it was suing Seacrest’s company, calling the physical-button iPhone attachment “a “blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard.”

In an effort to stop BlackBerry’s legal team in its tracks, Typo this week asked a US judge to throw out claims by the Waterloo, Ontario company that its accessory has infringed any patents, claiming some of them to be invalid.

According to a Bloomberg report, Typo’s legal team said in a filing at a San Francisco federal court Tuesday that one of the patents could not be enforced because the design was already on the market several years before BlackBerry gained patent approval.

If this is the case, it appears the US Patent and Trademark Office wasn’t made aware that the design was already in existence, Bloomberg said in its report.

Whether Typo succeeds in having BlackBerry’s claims dismissed remains to be seen, though last month the Q10 maker said it was determined to “vigorously protect” its intellectual property against any firm which it believes is trying to copy any of its “unique designs.”

q10 typo

The Typo keyboard attachment is on the right.

With regards to its physical keyboard, a feature many smartphone users continue to swear by, Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s general counsel and chief legal officer, said recently that his company was “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.”

BlackBerry boss John Chen has also stated the importance of its button-based keyboard, saying last month that future phones from the company would “not exclusively but predominantly” feature the design.

Typo’s keyboard attaches to an iPhone 5 and 5S and is supposed to offer an easier way to tap out messages and emails. It sits at the bottom of the device and keeps the entire display clear, meaning the 40 percent of screen space usually taken up by the on-screen keyboard stays clear for the user.

While it undeniably resembles the kind of physical keyboard found on many BlackBerry handsets, Typo is determined to prove that it hasn’t infringed any of the company’s patents.

To find out more about Typo, check out DT’s full review of the gadget here.

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