BlackBerry Sues Typo over Add-on Keyboard

By Joe Rizzo January 09, 2014

Earlier this week I heard about a lawsuit that BlackBerry had filed against a company named Typo. One of the reasons that it got so much news coverage is that one of the co-founders of the company producing the keyboard add-on is Ryan Seacrest.

The funny thing is that later that night I was channel surfing and noticed that Seacrest was on the Jimmy Fallon show. Unbelievably, right at that moment the two personalities were attaching the Typo to their iPhones. The funny thing is that while they were trying to text each other, almost every word was misspelled. I guess it was just performance anxiety!

The company is being sued by BlackBerry for infringing on its notable physical QWERTY keyboard. Since the lawsuit was filed last Friday, Jan. 3, John Chen, who is currently the interim CEO at BlackBerry, expressed his view in an interview with Forbes.

Chen said, “The keyboard is our identity. If you copy our keyboard, of course we need to assert that right… If somebody wants to license it they’re welcome to do that, but they can’t just take it.” The lawsuit describes the Typo as “a blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard.”

I have always loved the BlackBerry keyboard. At one time, I upgraded to the BlackBerry Torch because while offering a lot of touchscreen abilities, it also still afforded me the use of the physical keyboard. There is a touch and feel about it that is undeniable. One you hold one in your hand, there is no way to mistake it for anything else.

The Typo has two parts that attach by snapping into the iPhone 5 and 5S, much as a regular case would. It is said that the keyboard portion at the bottom adds half an inch to the overall size of the phone. To my eye, it appears to be larger than that.

What do you see when you look at the images below? What I see when I look at this keyboard is that I am definitely reminded of nothing other than the BlackBerry keyboard.



Surprisingly, Typo CEO and co-founder, Laurence Hallier didn’t find out about the lawsuit until after he read a news report about it. His response to Chen was “He says he has a monopoly on keyboards? We don’t believe we’ve violated any of BlackBerry’s patents and we did do due diligence. We’re going to defend this vigorously.”

I think that I will play devil’s advocate here. The Forbes article mentions that Hallier and Seacrest started Typo two years ago. The reason for this was because they were sitting at a restaurant and they each had two phones on the table.

Apparently one phone was used to access apps while they each had another phone for typing. No mention was given about what phones were actually sitting on the table. I think that is very safe to assume that the app phone was an iPhone. I’m wondering what the other phone was. Could it have been a BlackBerry?

In any event, Chen’s final comments were “It’s not a negative message per se. The keyboard is going to be a big part of our future.”

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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