BlackBerry Sues Maker Of Physical iPhone Keyboard
Typo Products co-founder and media personality Ryan Seacrest may not have thought this one through
Typo Products was co-founded by entrepreneur Laurence Hallier and American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, and currently sells just one product – the Typo Keyboard Case.
The Canadian company claims the case, available for pre-order since the beginning of January, is an obvious copy of the iconic hardware design that gave BlackBerry its name.
Typo Products, headquartered in Los Angeles, has designed the case to slip over an iPhone and offer small, angled, illuminated keys in a standard layout. It includes a 180 mAh battery charged via USB, and connects to a smartphone using Bluetooth. The accessory costs just $99 (£60). However, due to physical limitations of the keyboard, its users are unable to access Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
BlackBerry (known as Research in Motion before January 2013) developed its original QWERTY keyboard for the BlackBerry 850 pager back in 1999, naming it thanks to the resemblance of the keys to the drupelets of the blackberry fruit. Countless BlackBerry users have called the physical keyboard one of the main reasons they remain with the brand – the addictive process of punching the keys even earned company the nickname ‘Crackberry’.
“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,” said Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer.
To protect its intellectual property rights, the company has filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California – the home of some of the largest ever patent disputes.
Over the last three years, BlackBerry transformed from a dominant force in the telecommunications market into a niche player whose future is uncertain. It recently reported quarterly losses of around £2.7 billion – but its share price actually went up following the news, thanks to the new CEO John Chen, support of the private investors and a feasible turnaround plan.
Unfortunately, BlackBerry will have to reverse its fortunes without its creative director Alicia Keys, who left her role at the company last week.
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