Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry said Friday it was suing a company founded by TV’s Ryan Seacrest over a slip-on keyboard accessory for the iPhone that offers BlackBerry-like functionality to the Apple gadget.
Typo Products LLC, founded by entrepreneur Laurence Hallier and media personality Seacrest, said that their first accessory, the Typo Keyboard, would be available for pre-order this month. Blackberry said that won’t fly.
“This 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,” said Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry's general counsel and chief legal officer.
“From the beginning, BlackBerry has always focused on offering an exceptional typing experience that combines a great design with ergonomic excellence. We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation.”
The device has been widely described as a way to turn an iPhone into a BlackBerry. A late December review of the Typo Keyboard case on CNET, for example, was titled “Hands -on with case that turns your iPhone into a BlackBerry.”
The product is set to debut at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).