Typo Keyboards, a hardware firm founded by entrepreneur Laurence Hallier and TV host Ryan Seacrest, is being sued by Canadian smartphone company BlackBerry for allegedly copying BlackBerry’s distinctive keyboard with their iPhone keyboard case.
American Idol host Seacrest and Hallier’s product is a Bluetooth device that clips a keyboard onto an iPhone 5 or 5s smartphone.
However, the addition of the keyboard and its appearance have spurred BlackBerry into action.
In a statement, BlackBerry said the Typo keyboard violates BlackBerry’s intellectual property rights.
It added that the BlackBerry keyboard has been recognised by the press and the public as a significant market differentiator for its mobile devices.
“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,” said Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry's general counsel and chief legal officer.
“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,” Zipperstein added.
Typo has responded by saying BlackBerry's lawsuit "lacks merit".
"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," Typo said in a statement. "We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research."