Typo iPhone keyboard maker says BlackBerry lawsuit 'lacks merit'

Typo, the Ryan Seacrest-backed business responsible for developing the Typo Keyboard attachment designed to work with the iPhone, has responded to a recently-filed lawsuit by BlackBerry, the beleaguered Canadian smartphone manufacturer.

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. 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.

While Typo is set to make its official product launch at CES, the company opened its kimono a peek early last month. It's a slide-out keyboard that attaches to the iPhone 5 and 5s like a case, providing a QWERTY-layout thumbpad.

BlackBerry wasn't pleased. On Friday the company announced it had filed suit against Typo, calling the design "blatant infringement."

"...we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations," said BlackBerry's chief legal officer, Steve Zipperstein.

BlackBerry has a lot of patents for their smartphone keyboard designs, so they're not blowing smoke, but Typo looks like it's ready to fight. Should be interesting.

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Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Typo iPhone keyboard maker says BlackBerry lawsuit 'lacks merit'


Ya, sorry Typo. You're losing this one. Just cough up the money to license it or fold the plans and save yourself the legal costs.

I completely agree. I have nothing against the idea but that keyboard couldn't be anymore of a BlackBerry keyboard even if it said BlackBerry on it. License it or give up now.

And, "We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research." Seriously?

Yeah, let me fix that . . . "the culmination of years of (Research In Motion's) development and research."

Can Blackberry afford/justify the expense of taking this to court right now? Or is it they can't afford not to?... Ars Technica has BBRY on their "Deathwatch" list for 2014...

I think the more important question is, can they afford not to? Allowing the theft of their largest design asset would be financial suicide.

BB has been on a death list of some sort since 2009. Ars Technica doesn't change anything. I think the company will still thrive once its got its ducks in a row.

Im glad BB is taking action with this. Im curious to see how this plays out.

The whole idea is just plain stupid. One of the selling points of an iPhone is the virtual keyboard. There when you need and not when you don't. If you want a phone with a physical keyboard don't buy an iPhone plain and simple.

If that question is directed to me. Prior to the iPhone I have used more kinds of cellphones than years you've been around. Since the iPhone came out there has been no need since is the best phone on the market. But for those who disagree that's fine don't buy one.

Ha. I like how you assume I'm attacking you so you choose to be condescending in your reply.

So in all those years you've been around, you've never found merit in other phone designs? Some people would argue that the iPhone's keyboard is rather lacking and probably the worst of the touchscreens.

So, for those people, they want everything the iPhone offers, but choose a superior keyboard option. And if that keyboard happens to be this Typo case, then so be it.

If you don't agree, then as the poster below me said, don't buy one and move along.

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oooor You like the iphone, but also like the idea of having a physical keyboard. The virtual keyboard is a selling point for YOU, not everyone else. Move along and don't buy it. Now THAT is plain and simple...

I still won't buy it, probably not anyway...why does it cover the home button!? And Blackberry wins this one.

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It looks like they made the bottom right key the home button. Probably the only way to keep the balance right.

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Intellectual property protection for a keyboard of obvious design? Ridiculous. Blackberry can go pound salt.

And -10000000 to all of you who seem to love patents and the trolls they create so much.

Actually, its not a keyboard of obvious design. Check it closely, and you will see it even has the same shape to the keys, which has always set BB above all other keyboards. One of the concerns I have, and that which has kept me from ordering one, is what happens when the iPhone gets larger?

Clearly BalBurgh has no idea how much tech is in a BB keyboard, judging from his comment he must be assuming that anything with keys that have letters and numbers on them are all the same.

Keyboard of obvious design? Like a phone shaped like a rectangle with rounded corners is obvious design? As soon as I saw the image, I knew exactly why there was a suit.

The idea of intellectual property itself is what lacks merit. If I can look at something and see how it's done, then why should government employees with guns be able to stop me from doing it? Clothing designs are copied all the time. So are dance moves. What's different about a keyboard?

Simply, no intellectual property protections should be enforced by the state.

What is the difference between the design of a keyboard, no matter how technologically novel or complex, and a dance move or any other idea?

Answer? Zero.

If you copy an idea, then the owner still has the idea, and no theft or aggression has occurred. If no aggression has occurred, then no enforcement or restitution can be sought.

Probably the best modern exponent of this approach to IP is Stephan Kinsella.

Dance moves are 'protected' only by the ability of a dancer to perform them and a choreographer to place them in a meaningful context. Clothing designs are only protected by branding and creating a moving target; that is, clothing designers 'protect' their work by continuously changing what is new and hot. It is annoying as all get out to not be able to buy the same pants year after year, but once I understood the clothiers' motivations, at least I understood and respected them.

There is nothing in technology that cannot be 'protected' in the same way. Microsoft did it for years (even as they were being pointlessly raped by the government). Their actions made me mad, too (DOS isn't done 'til Lotus doesn't run!)--until I understood them. This goes back through the licensing agreements made by Standard Oil and so on.

I agree. Seems they have a short memory when IMO they were wholesale using elements of webOS in the their software redesign. And HP correct me if I am wrong did nothing. It's a keyboard with raised keys and the usual keyboard features. Give me a break. But like someone says the press can't hurt Typo. Now I'm interested in getting one.

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I like the Chen guy at BlackBerry, he's finding ways to make money. Keep it up and claim what rightfully belongs in BlackBerry pockets.

People [Seacrest/Typo] always want to have their cake and eat it too. It must be very nice to be in such a situation, but I'm afraid I'll never know personally.
I like my iPhone.

Blackberry has a right to defend their patents but I wonder if it matters at this point. They need to come up with something innovative to compete with Apple and Google and this keyboard case is the least of their problems. Even if they win, what are they bringing to the table in 2014 to get back in the game? The clock is ticking.

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I think the general consensus was that BlackBerry wouldn't focus so much on the consumer end anymore.

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It's such a clear rip of the Blackberry Q10 keyboard. Typo better get ready to show BlackBerry the money because I don't think they will give up such a key piece if their intellectual property without a fight.

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Sorry, but Blackberry doesn't have a case. This keyboard has black keys and white letters and symbols. I think there these types of keyboards before the Blackberry.

Actually, look at this keyboard, and look at a picture of a BlackBerry Q10. This keyboard seems to have the keys all angled the same way, in the same layout (most non-blackberry keyboards tend to use a standard qwerty layout with numbers on the top row), even using the same icons for backspace and enter and such. This keyboard is definitely more like a BlackBerry keyboard than any of the other ones out there. Whether that will stand up in court is another issue.

This will be fun to watch. As much as i like the idea of this case, it's use case does not align for me. I could see it working well for certain situations....such as blogging at CES....

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Maximum lol @ physical keyboards in 2014. Android swiftkey's predictive keyboard is amazing, blackberry's z10 keyboard is a breeze and even the q10 combines the physical keyboard with on screen predictive tech.. My iPhone 5s has the worst on screen keyboard I've ever used and I still don't feel the need for a physical keyboard.. This case looks massive and looks like it will add a lot of bulk.. Feels like we're going backwards with this kind of tech.. :/.

Oh and the keyboard definitely looks like my old torch keyboard..