BlackBerry moves to block sales of Typo keyboard

The company claims Ryan Seacrest designed the keyboard to replace his BlackBerry

BlackBerry has asked a California court to block U.S. sales of the Typo keyboard, an add-on keyboard for the iPhone that BlackBerry says is an "obvious knock-off" of the keyboards on its phones.

The move, which came late Wednesday, intensifies a battle between the two companies that began in January this year when BlackBerry accused Typo of patent infringement. The lawsuit garnered considerable attention, in part because Typo was co-founded by popular U.S. radio and television personality Ryan Seacrest.

The keyboard is designed to slip onto an iPhone 5 or 5S to provide a physical keyboard. The $99 device is currently available for pre-order through the company's website, which advertises it has already sold out of an unspecified number of keyboards for January and February delivery.

Such keyboards have been a main selling point of BlackBerry devices since the company was making radio pagers and despite the recent popularity of on-screen virtual keyboards, there remains many users who value a physical keyboard.

BlackBerry alleges infringement of two patents: U.S. Design Patent 685,775 and U.S. Patent 7,629,964. The former covers the design elements of a "handheld electronic device" and the latter "an electronic device with keyboard optimized for use with the thumbs."

BlackBerry is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to prohibit Typo from "making, using, offering to sell, or selling within the United States, or importing into the United States, the Typo Keyboard."

"Typo's blatant copying of BlackBerry's keyboard presents an imminent threat of irreparable harm to BlackBerry, and that threat is magnified in combination with the significant market power of the iPhone," BlackBerry said in a proposed motion to the court.

Seacrest comes up in the BlackBerry motion. The company notes he was a well-known, long-time user of BlackBerry devices and cites interviews where he said that the inspiration for the keyboard was trying to bring together the best of the BlackBerry typing experience with everything else an iPhone had to offer.

The motion also cites several reviews that note the visual similarity between the Typo and BlackBerry keyboards.

For BlackBerry, the issue is perhaps about more than just the visual similarities.

The company has been struggling to keep up with the fast pace of change being driven by Apple and Android phones and recently regrouped to focus more tightly on the government, military and enterprise customer.

That's the company's core business audience and the users that value a physical keyboard the most. If comparable keyboards become add-on accessories to Apple and Android phones, it would be more difficult for BlackBerry to compete.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags consumer electronicsintellectual propertyTypo Products LLCsmartphonespatentCivil lawsuitsiPhonelegalRyan SeacrestBlackberry

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?