back to article BlackBerry sues American Idol host's company for 'blatant' patent infringement

BlackBerry has rejoined the patent-infringement litigation party, filing suit in the Northern District of California against an iPhone-keyboard company, Typo Keyboards, cofounded by "media personality" Ryan Seacrest. "This is a blatant infringement against BlackBerry's iconic keyboard, and we will vigorously protect our …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Sir! Lawsuits in Motion is uncloaking on our starboard bow!

    Back to old form, I see.

    Does the encroaching death fire up its last spirits?

  2. MrXavia

    HMMM a valid complaint, if they have patented that specific keyboard design, it is not fair if someone else cashes in on it.... they could just as easily made a qwerty keyboard with a different design...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Like a qwertz...

  3. Steve Evans

    What would be really annoying for anyone who bought into the new BB cool-aid would be if this keyboard introduced the rather useful shortcuts which BB forgot to keep in their latest implementation.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      I'll take a byte of bitcoin action on that ........Blackberry Exercising Mojo Juju, Mr Chen?

      What would be really annoying for anyone who bought into the new BB cool-aid would be if this keyboard introduced the rather useful shortcuts which BB forgot to keep in their latest implementation. .....Steve Evans Posted Friday 3rd January 2014 23:32 GMT

      That is Really Exciting and Zealously Guarded Authority for Researchers in Motion HyperRadioProActive IT Systems, Networking Colossals, to Strip and Reconfigure Gravy Train Pleasures to Drivers of Insatiable Desire and Pure Wanton Lust in LOVE .... which is Real Enough to Touch in Live Operational Virtual Environment Fields of Work, REST and ForePlay Programming Action.

      And the RIM HIT Systems are SMARTR Quantum Communications Security Systems for Command and Control of Universal Unilateral Power ReGeneration with Creative IT Solutions ......... Ad Infinitum

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I've learned anything from the use of the keyboards of several BB devices and several of their competitors', it's that things like that little bevel in the keycap - and its specific shape, which at first blush appears to have been snorked fairly precisely from BB's design - has a huge impact on the usability of the keyboard.

    And that's not even getting into whatever's going on under the surface to make it work, which, again, is subtly, and *consistently* superior in BB hardware, in my experience.

    I dislike patent trolling as much as the next guy - and hell, my own business has been directly impacted by overbroad patents - but in this case I think RIM deserves to be able to make its case before being dismissed as engaging in a desperate ploy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @David W.

      BB has, AFAIK, actual patents on how their keyboards work, and design patents on the implementation. They've actually done some real work to get there,not just stuck plastic blobs on top of a membrane switch. Looking at most other phones with keyboards, the word "afterthought" somehow springs to mind. So given that the add on keyboard looks exactly like a rip off of a BB island keyboard, I think they have a real case. If they don't pursue it, the last of their differentiating hardware IP goes up the spout.

      I still don't understand why people hate BB,the product or the company. Unless Jolla picks up, if BB goes down every single phone OS in the world will be under the control of the US government. Let's try substituting "Russian" or "Chinese" in that, and see how many people think it would be a good thing.

    2. Salts

      @David W

      Like you I am against patent trolling and agree this does not seem to be the situation here and therefore BB has no choice but to go to court.

    3. Tom 13

      @ David W.

      I've never much cared for the BB keyboard, but then I've never cared much for any of the smart phone keyboards. They're all too damn small for me.

      But I generally concur with your remarks. They do seem to have put some R&D into it and deserve at least a preliminary hearing before being dismissed. I do however wish they referenced the specific patents in question so we were better able to evaluate their argument. They do seem to have gone to the trouble to put some legalese on the website to protect from some sort of shareholder lawsuits.

  5. Lord Lien

    Think there website has been hacked....

    ... some evil little shite has defaced the website & put "a world leader in mobile communications" on there!

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: Think there website has been hacked....

      Sentence fragment. Needs verb. Adverb maybe.


      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Think there website has been hacked....

        What are you complaining about? It had plenty of adwords there - world, leader, mobile, communication.

        Oh. You wanted adverbs. Sorry, we do not use those anymore.

      2. tony2heads

        Re: Think there website has been hacked....

        Very wisdom. Such terse. Wow!

  6. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I couldnt see anything patentable about the design at all

    I've seen keyboards in drawers since the 60's.

    Then I saw it was for, not just a mobile phone, but an iPhone!

    1. Adam 1

      Re: I couldnt see anything patentable about the design at all

      BB: It's a keyboard in a draw.

      USPTO: Sorry but I'm afraid there is prior art so you can not patent it.

      BB: OK, fair enough. Well how about this?

      USPTO: What is it?

      BB: It's a keyboard draw for a mobile device.


  7. Shonko Kid


    Not sure I'd be confident using a keyboard called typo...

    What if when naming the device, he used it to send the message to the marketroids, but he wanted to go with the altogether cooler name 'typr' but got it wrong?

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Typo?

      I'm surprised anyone was willing to invest in a company called typo. The whole thing smell of the plot line from The Producers.

  8. Paul Crawford Silver badge


    "...their users as the dimmest bulbs on the smartphone chandelier"

    This sort of eloquent prose is among the reasons I read El Reg.

    1. P Saunders

      Re: Bravo!

      As a BB user, regrettably I must agree with that statement.

  9. chris lively

    Somehow I don't think the lawsuit is going to matter at all.

    Most iPhone users have learned that you absolutely positively must have the phone in an actual protective case, otherwise it will soon be scrap. Mine hits concrete at least 3 times a week ( thank god for LifeProof ). That keyboard looks like it would shatter the first time it hit carpet.

    The only people that might buy it are probably ex-blackberry users that haven't learned that lesson yet. Not sure how this plays into the dimbulb comment though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @chris lively

      If you are hitting concrete with your iPhone at least 3 times a week, could I suggest that it might be worth investing in a cold chisel instead? They are much easier to resharpen, and steel is tougher than aluminium.

      If I've misunderstood your post please be understanding - as a BB owner my IQ is in the dim bulb category, apparently.

    2. Bryan Hall

      Odd. I've now had a work BB for over a year now, and somehow have avoided having it hit concrete 3 times a week. Are iPhone's somehow attracted to concrete? Or are iPhone's just rather slippery?

      Seriously, I think it looks like a rather good design. But I'd only want it if they also made a leather case to put it all in that works as good as the BB one. I still get a kick out of people trying to find the answer key when I pull it ringing out of the case (it already knows you have "picked it up").

    3. SuccessCase

      "Mine hits concrete at least 3 times a week"

      If I were you I would see a neurologist and get a check-up done on your nervous system - or drink less.

  10. Gil Grissum

    As far as I can tell, Blackberry has never invented, produced, and sold an externally attached Blue Tooth Keyboard for any of their Blackberry phones, so merely claiming that a vertical slip on Blue Tooth keyboard that's not built into any phone but is a separate keyboard attachment violates any Blackberry patents, is questionable, at best. And if merely having a vertical keyboard was a Blackberry patent violation, Why didn't Blackberry sue Samsung for the Jack, Palm for the Treo, Centro, Pre, and Pre + and others who produced phones with vertical keyboards?

    Blackberry has it's work cut out for it on this one, I think.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >so merely claiming that a vertical slip on Blue Tooth keyboard that's not built into any phone but is a separate keyboard attachment violates any Blackberry patents, is questionable, at best.

      Which is why they are not claiming that.

      What BB are claiming is a similarity between the shape of the keys on this new keyboard and those found on BB devices, as you can see in this image:

      At first glance, there would appear to be enough of a similarity for claim to be at least considered by a court.

      BB keyboards have enjoyed a good reputation, and it is safe to assume that BB invested time and money building and evaluating many prototypes. It isn't fair if someone else comes along and just copies the fruits if their labour.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        "What BB are claiming is a similarity between the shape of the keys ..."

        FFS - another "rounded corners" argument!! I'm tired of this shit ...

    2. Tom 13

      @ Gil Grissum

      If BB have a valid patent on the keyboard, simply moving it from the handset to and external device doesn't avoid their patent. Typo would still need to pay royalties for that.

      If moving it to an external device generates a valid patent, BB would then have to license that implementation if they wished to sell it, even though they have the keyboard patent. Of course, in that case they'd more likely settle for cross-licensing rights.

  11. mickey mouse the fith

    Its getting a bit silly now

    Got the rights to the shape of the keys eh?, next thing you know the roundness of corners will be patented......oh wait.

    1. Camilla Smythe

      Re: Its getting a bit silly now

      No shit. Apple must be a bit pissed they did not 'patent' "Thing Sort of The Shape of an iPhone That Fits Around an iPhone"... What a bunch of losers.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Its getting a bit silly now

      Sorry - I didn't scroll down far enough before making my above comment making a similar point.

  12. pctechxp

    This sounds familiar

    Isn't another multibillion dollar US computer turned consumer electronics firm trying to sue a Korean multibillion Won consumer electronics firm over practically everything?

    The moral is: the lawyers laugh all the way to the bank and your company is left a steaming pile of s**t.

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    Well it's kind of hard to tell

    All the pictures I've seen to date are far to angled and off centered for us to tell.

  14. Joe 35

    Is this a cunning way of getting lots of publicity?

    Change the keys angled appearance on the production models so its no longer an obvious copy, and in the meantime the association between blackberry and this keyboard has been nicely entrenched, since "it must be good if bb are suing" ?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the iPhone is hideous to start with, without adding this!

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