back to article American Idle: Seacrest keyboard startup Typo goes nowhere after BlackBerry bust-up

Typo, the ill-fated iPhone keyboard startup backed by US media personality Ryan Seacrest, has agreed to discontinue much of its product line after settling a legal dispute with BlackBerry. The struggling Canadian smartphone mogul said that it has agreed to a settlement with Typo that will see the accessory maker permanently …

  1. Mage Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Discraceful

    Blackberry popularised a particular style of keypad.

    They don't deserve any protection of the idea at all.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Discraceful

      This is Lawsuits in Motion we're talking about, just renamed.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seriously?

    Blackberry holds a patent to the idea of a keyboard on a device with a screen smaller than 7.9"? So what about all those Windows Mobile devices and various other smartphones that had such a keyboard back in the pre-iPhone days? Was this included with other stuff in patent cross licensing deals, or have there been such settlements previously?

    I would have thought "phone sold with keyboard built in" and "phone with touchscreen has aftermarket add-on keyboard that works with a capacative screen" would be sufficiently different, at least.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Seriously?

      Er, no.

      BlackBerry designed and patented a particular way of shaping the keys on a keyboard so that they can be used easily despite being sized to fit on a small handset. Typo copied that key shape without even thinking about it. They could have tried to license it, but didn't even bother doing that.

      If you've never typed on a BlackBerry keyboard you really won't understand why they're good. One with featureless flat keys is a lot harder to type on it than a BlackBerry keyboard.

      Whatever one thinks of such patents, it's certainly more valid than one involving round corners on a rectangular handheld device. The fact that BlackBerry seem to have scored a decisive victory suggests that the courts themselves consider the patent to be valid.

      1. Steve Knox

        Re: Seriously?

        The fact that BlackBerry seem to have scored a decisive victory suggests that the courts themselves consider the patent to be valid.

        The fact that this victory happened in settlement talks before the cases went to trial suggests that the courts' opinions had little to do with it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Seriously?

          Don't forget that Apple won in court on rounded corners at least once. If that's your measure of the validity of a patent, you're going to find a lot of crap patents are "valid".

          Anyone know if the key shape thing is a design patent (like rounded corners is) which is a different class of patent than a normal one, or if it is a utility patent, implying that it improves the functionality over other potential key shapes as the previous poster said?

          1. bazza Silver badge

            Re: Seriously?

            Anyone know if the key shape thing is a design patent (like rounded corners is) which is a different class of patent than a normal one, or if it is a utility patent, implying that it improves the functionality over other potential key shapes as the previous poster said?

            Apparently they're utility patents.

            One of BlackBerry's biggest strengths is their patent list. Because they've been in the business so long they have developed a lot of good ideas long before everyone else.

            I'm surprised that some one like Apple haven't bought them yet. It's easy to dismiss a shrinking company as valueless, but when you see exactly what they can do with antennas, enterprise back ends, battery life, etc. and keyboards, someone like Apple would probably buy them ASAP. My Z30 easily outstrips my wife's iPhone 5 for hanging onto a signal, lasts two days on a charge, etc. Mind you, since when did Apple ever think that any of those things mattered to anyone?!

            BlackBerry have not disappeared as was widely predicted, and are almost making a profit again. If anyone was going to buy them, the cheapest price has probably already gone past.

            1. Hans 1

              Re: Seriously?

              After a year of owning the z30, I finally got my wife one ... I have black, she has white ;-).

              She kept complaining about her Android phone... I had gotten her a curve back in the day, then an android, with her z30, she now has a decent email client and web browser ... again.

              1. Riku

                Re: Seriously?

                I was bitching (again) about my Androids (a personal HTC and a work Samsung) a few months ago so my wife (a Canuck), purchased a z30 for my birthday (to shut me the hell up).

                Quite frankly it's the best damn phone I've ever owned.

                I get good reception in places where my HTC got none. I've had no issue finding the apps I use, (except one, but they now have an excellent mobile web app that works just fine, so I don't really care about a native app anymore). The build and call quality is very good. Most tellingly, I haven't had the urge to hurl it at the wall like I do with the Samsung at least once a week.

                So now I'm getting my wife to choose one of the new models (z30, Passport or the Classic) in return.

                We really need a good alternative to the Silicon valley happsters and the Borg. Long live BlackBerry.

        2. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Seriously?

          The fact that this victory happened in settlement talks before the cases went to trial suggests that the courts' opinions had little to do with it.

          Oh I dunno, sounds more like the court's opinion was, figuratively, written in six inch high letters carved into the granite by the front door of the courthouse. The writing being so clearly on the wall probably had a lot to do with Typo going for a pre-trial settlement. No one sensible contests a trial knowing they're going to lose.

          In previous trials the court had concluded that BlackBerry had been wronged. Presumably nothing substantive had changed.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Seriously?

      So what about all those Windows Mobile devices and various other smartphones that had such a keyboard back in the pre-iPhone days?

      There are smartphones with physical keyboards in these latter, lapsarian days too.

  3. Hans 1

    The struggling Canadian smartphone mogul ????

    With all this NSA talk, and the fact the NSA can infect any Android, Windows Phone, or iOS device, it is only a matter of time before everybody realizes that BB is the only secure option.

    Besides, big shops in Europe have already mandated BB10 and forbid BYOD - too many sensitive leaks.

    1. Paul

      Re: The struggling Canadian smartphone mogul ????

      there's reasonable evidence that governments have entered into key escrow deals with Blackberry, the US and Indian governments were quite well publicised.

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