updated 03:55 pm EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Company accused of bypassing sales embargo willingly
Ryan Seacrest-backed Typo, manufacturer of physical keyboard cases for the iPhone, has run into more legal trouble. BlackBerry has been allowed to proceed with contempt of court charges, alleging that Typo has been selling its keyboards which have been ruled to violate BlackBerry intellectual property, contravening a court order to stop doing so.
The majority of the shipments claimed to be involved in the bypassing of the court order ended up in non-US markets. The major objection raised by BlackBerry, and agreed with by Judge William Orrick, was that the company sold 4,008 of the keyboards to SMI Investments between the time the sales injunction was ordered, and when it took effect. Additionally, the company provided 400 warranty replacements, also bypassing the ban on distribution of the device.
BlackBerry's General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer Steve Zipperstein said in a statement during the original ruling that the Typo keyboard "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."
Gigaom reports that in the same hearing, Typo's request to have a second version of the keyboard found to be non-infringing was denied. The judge ruled that the company would have to file for a separate hearing to adjudicate that matter. The company already has the Typo 2 for sale on its website.
Television personality Ryan Seacrest and an investment partner are believed to have put more than $1 million into the keyboard venture, with other keyboard products said to be in development. Seacrest has previously lamented the need to keep two devices, including an iPhone as a primary smartphone and a second handset for "typing and correspondence," though he did not explicitly name BlackBerry as the inspiration for the Typo keyboard.