California judge bans Typo Keyboard to satisfy BlackBerry

Ryan Seacrest, according to biography.com, is widely known for his Los Angeles morning radio show and his on-air and behind-the-scenes involvement in television shows like “American Idol” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Many of Seacrest’s ideas have paid off handsomely, but his ownership stake in Typo Keyboard may not be one of them.

It’s likely you’ve never heard of Typo Keyboard or Seacrest’s founding membership in the startup, but BlackBerry has. Typo makes a cover for iPhones that contains a keyboard, a feature to supplement Apple’s touchscreen product. BlackBerry is unhappy because Typo’s keyboard resembles its own.

BlackBerry filed a case against Seacrest’s company claiming the Typo’s snap-on keyboard violates copyright trade dress rules. Trade dress is how the appearance or packaging of a product helps make it identifiable to consumers. Products that look too much alike create marketplace confusion and detract from the original product’s rightful sales.

BlackBerry sought and received a court order stopping the production and sales of the Typo Keyboard, which debuted in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Reviews of Typo’s product criticized its look and price tag. Just 4,000 were made since the keyboard was introduced to the public, but more than enough to rile BlackBerry.

For now, Typo Keyboard can continue to manufacture, market and sell the wraparound iPhone case. The judge ordered BlackBerry to put up bond money to protect Typo. Bond secures a defendant’s stake until a final ruling is made.

Typo Keyboard attempted to convince the court its product didn’t threaten BlackBerry. The 2013 fiscal year wasn’t kind to BlackBerry, with company losses of nearly $6 billion. BlackBerry officials hinted the company might accept “fair compensation,” if Typo sought an agreement.

Litigation seems like an extreme measure to force a copyright issue, but sometimes it’s advisable. Trials aren’t always the objective. Settlements containing cross-licensing agreements are not uncommon in intellectual property disputes.

Source: CBS News, “BlackBerry wins court order; look-alike iPhone case banned” No author given, Mar. 31, 2014