Former Director of U.S. Patent And Trademark Office discusses the BlackBerry vs. Typo keyboard lawsuit

By Bla1ze on 6 Jan 2014 06:02 pm EST
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Since the announcement of the Typo keyboard there has been plenty of discussion surrounding it and now that BlackBerry has filed a lawsuit against Typo Products LLC and Ryan Seacrest for what they regard as 'blatant infringement against BlackBerry's iconic keyboard' the conversation has only ramped up even further. For you or I to look at it, it seems all too obvious that there's some direct copying going on there but things can (and often do) get trickier when you look at it all from a legal perspective.

Looking to address some of the legal perspective is Q. Todd Dickinson, former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and current Executive Director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association who sat down recently with Business in Canada to take a further at the lawsuit. It's an interesting read; you'll find some highlights below.

According to Dickinson, ”BlackBerry’s going to have to prove that the device the defendant has put on the market infringes on one of its patents” ottherwise known as burden of proof. There is 2 claims highlighted by Dickinson in the article, Claims 1 and 9 that may serve as “broad claims” and help with determining if any patents were infringed.

  • Claim 1: …each of the depressible keys has a top engagement surface of which an upper inboard portion is raised relative to a lower outboard portion thereof, wherein the top engagement surface of at least some of the depressible keys has a generally inclined crest shape…
  • Claim 9:  …the keyboard comprises a keyfield comprising a plurality of depressible keys arranged in rows that are distributed about a vertical centerline of the keyboard and each of the depressible keys has a top engagement surface of which an upper inboard portion is raised relative a lower outboard portion thereof, wherein the top engagement surface of at least some of the depressible keys has a generally inclined crest shape with a top of the crest diagonally oriented on the key.

The image depicts BlackBerry’s “sculpted keys”, which appear to be similar (though not identical) to its more recent designs. For instance, there is no space between the keys on current models, and the precise curvature of the keys appears to have been altered, as well. But, according to Mr. Dickinson, those details don’t matter. ”Whatever BlackBerry is currently selling doesn’t make a difference,” he said. “The whole issue will be whether what the defendant’s product is versus the wording of these claims.”

Additionally, BlackBerry has included several other complaints in the filing and as expected, have broken it down to very specific items. From the complaint:

  • a keyboard with an overall symmetrical design around the vertical center line, comprising several horizontal dividing bars above rows of sculpted keys, the last of which is rounded on the bottom edge;
  • several horizontal bars in contrasting color and finish set above horizontal rows of keys;
  • several top rows of roughly square shaped keys having little horizontal space between them;
  • a bottom row of roughly rectangular shaped keys having curved bottoms edges and little horizontal space between them;
  • keys with planar areas away from the vertical center line of the keyboard and sculpted curves closer to the center line;
  • one larger rectangular key in the center of the bottom row having a u- shaped planar area; and
  • keys having distinct lettering or graphical icons printed on the surface.

And finally, there's some arguably less obvious information that may help BlackBerry in their case. The plain and simply fact that Typo and even Seacrest himself made no bones about comparing their offering to that of BlackBerry's. Several comments made to media outlets and even Typo's own Twitter account often references the similarities to the BlackBerry keyboard. 

You can head over to Business in Canada for the full article but for me, this particular comment is what stood out. “The law firm that represents BlackBerry, Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart, & Sullivan, is a very powerful, important firm – they’re not going to fool around here.” - that's exactly what BlackBerry needs right now so I'm glad they're prepared.

Topics: BBRY Devices

75 comments

j1m0h

Interesting

Posted via CB10

thedustytaco

Lolol twitter part was funny they themselves stating its like BlackBerry keyboard

ebrit003

I'm not sure it was going to be a big seller anyway. That would be one LOOOOOOONG phone.

ianbordas

I do hope BB slaps these guys hard in the face!

rocker_man1

Go team BlackBerry

www.mikescraftbeer.com - C00012735 Posted on my Z30

Observation Junkie

Oooooh dear for Mr Seacrest, if he tweeted to draw comparison to BlackBerry keyboard, then he's in for a whole lot of pain.

This ain't a good example of Americas got Talent

BlackBerry Channel C0036A42A

hamza817

Haha

Posted via CB10

birdman_38

He has no involvement with America's Got Talent.

zdn1042

The Voice, maybe? =P

Go BlackBerry!!

wolf_clan

Try American Idol. :)

Posted via CB10

BerryRipe

BlackBerry better fight hard because Apple has some serious man power.

Keep The Faith  BlackBerry Q10 

MarkyZ10

Not an apple product.

Posted via CB10

Observation Junkie

Apple are probably relieved not to have this plastic monstrosity attached to one of their products

BlackBerry Channel C0036A42A

Playbook007

I agree. It shows that their iphone does need a physical keyboard. On another note thus is great advertising for BlackBerry. Shows iphone users believe a good portion of them do love BlackBerry physical phones.

Posted via CB10

Observation Junkie

Absolutely correct

BlackBerry Channel C0036A42A

LeroyP09

Minus them not buying them. HELLO

Posted via CB10

eldricho

Guess they really regret tweeting all that stuff now lol

Posted via CB10

moyah8

Ignorance is bliss.

Posted via CB10 on my Q10SQN100-3/10.2.1.1925

chadwick777

An llc... the won't get much surely?
Anyway, I hope the guy behind it has made some profit, BlackBerry didn't make a 'for apple' keyboard and yet he provided a solution. Perhaps it was a solution to a nonexistent problem. Who knows? I'm interested in the story though.

Posted via CB10

feldmen01

BlackBerry isn't in the market to make the competition stronger with add on keyboards. The guy behind this should be forced to change the product or fork up royalties for sure.

Posted via CB10

Nine54

BlackBerry is in the market to make money, and sometimes that means "co-opetition" with the your peers. MSFT has that same mentality and has missed the boat on extending some of its franchise successes to other platforms due to Windows cannibalization fears. But guess what: rather than abandon their desired device/platform, users will find an adequate replacement. There's no reason that Office shouldn't be the most ubiquitous, de facto productivity suite.

On the BBRY, it's nice seeing then stick up for their IP.

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

Georgefly97

Get em

Posted via CB10

brunolovesbrit

Hit 'em hard BlackBerry!

Posted via CB10

matthewmrl

I would like to buy that keyboard for my Z10 if possible...

Z10

dble07

It exists, it's just a bit more expensive: www.blackberry.com/q10

Posted via CB10

Dave Bourque

Are you fucking joking ?

Z10STL100-3/10.2.1.1925

matthewmrl

The Z10 is my 1st BlackBerry, and I want to try out the popular keyboard of BlackBerry, but I still want to keep the screen size of the Z10...

Z10

Bacon Munchers

He stole that joke from me ;)

rickster2611

Its time to get wicked .

'Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years..'

Mama said knock you out.

I hope BlackBerry knocks them all out.

The smartphone market is almost at saturation point.

This is why everyone is going to the automotive industry.

Posted via CB10

jayemmbee

LL cool reference nice

Posted via CB10

Morty2264

Of course, there is always some kind of legal loophole...
I hope BlackBerry wins in this. (And I'd be saying the same thing if BlackBerry copied Android, etc. This is stealing, and it's not right.)

Posted via CB10

neteng1000

How about the "rounded corners " :P

Posted via CB10

ptpete

I wonder if typo has already spent money on production.

Posted via CB10

Observation Junkie

I think they did, were already taking orders and ready to ship by month end.

BlackBerry Channel C0036A42A

pipesthyr

Ryan Seacrest could have saved himself a lot of pain if he only got

Posted via CB10

pipesthyr

A BlackBerry qwerty.

Posted via CB10

oo_se7en

Call it fruitberry phone, lol

Posted via CB10

Q10fiend

So at what point do you want an iphone so dang bad but you need a keyboard that instead of buying a BlackBerry you buy this junk that you have to charge separately and make your phone look rediculous? Dumb... really hope BlackBerry wins this.

Posted via CB10

crazycanuck329

Agreed!

...we are all connected...

jlbenc

Does this justify making a 1024*720 Q30?

Posted via CB10

kscribs

BlackBerry's going to kick Typo's ass out of the park on this

Posted via CB10

kronykapitalist

Let Seacrest settle with BB and let him promote it with BB's name on it. Easy $

DaSchwantz

BlackBerry needs to milk this for all the publicity they can get out of it.

nt300

Anybody looking at this BlackBerry Rip-Off keyboard will think its a BlackBerry keyboard. That is the real issue. There is no way BlackBerry can lose this case. Absolutely Not.
Put the Bold and Q10 right beside this thing, and they are almost 100% identical.

PineappleUnderTheSea

I wonder if Typo altered their keyboard just enough--just enough--to get around the patents. We'd need to see exact dimensions, etc. I also wonder if Typo did try to talk to BB about a possible license, but either got rejected plain out, or didn't offer enough money?

3_M4N

“The law firm that represents BlackBerry, Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart, & Sullivan, is a very powerful, important firm – they’re not going to fool around here.”

^^^and boom goes the dynamite^^^

┌( ಠ_ಠ)┘ (╯‵□′)╯︵┻━┻ ┗( T﹏T )┛

Posted while peeking and flowing on my incredible BBQ10! 

milo53

Not going to fool around, billing the crap out of Blackberry. Right or wrong, lawfirms love this. While Typo get free publicity. Who's the real winner?

Draconianfire83

BlackBerry should "acquire" a deal with Typo and make the keyboard available for IPhone and call it a BBM4ALL Keyboard (typo is a dumb name). BlackBerry gets licensing revenue and iPhone gets a BB Brand Keyboard with contiguous BBM branding. Then all those tweet "could" be true.

Interesting.

Balti43

I like the way you think Draco, that would be brilliant. it would indeed show that people DO want a Blackberry. and perhaps in time they will buy one.

Technology83

BlackBerry fight hard and sue those a.....e for copy your design.

Posted via CB10

Bacon Munchers

It would have been a lot less obvious rip-off if Seacrest called it a... er... um... BlueBerry keyboard attachment.

BBUniq01

Boycott American Idol? Grin. Seacrest OUT!

BB Uniq BB Bold -Z10 with 1925

KidCaboose

Hey Bla1ze, want me to proof read your posts?

Bard's Brew: [URL="bbmc:C00347F03"]C00347F03[/URL] Role-play resource channel

Denny_Crane

What iPhone user would really buy one of these anyway?

BitPusher2600

I'm of the opinion that if the people pulling these strings are iPhone users, this one'll slide by. It's fun nowadays to kick on BlackBerry isn't it?

Posted from BitPusher's Q10

edriss

Open and shut case : BlackBerry wins!

Posted from the Zed 10 on the cool CB10 app

christoph77

Good choice of BlackBerry!

C0038297E Quote of the Day (BBM Channel)

Maxz888

BlackBerry have to win this fight!

Posted via CB10

Dannynutdude

It's funny cuz if this was Apple filing a lawsuit they would win instantly cuz they always get what they want...

Posted via CB10

theflyingpig86

The typo appears to hide the home button. Would you seriously have to take that thing apart every time you wanted to exit an app or what?

Posted via CB10

Prem WatsApp

Bottom right corner, small ersatz home key with icon.

My name is Prem, I'm using BBM ... from my QuZe10 ...whatarhyme...

ets5290

This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen but it's not the only dumb iPhone accessory. Just another reason I would never get an iPhone. Proud to rock a Z10 that doesn't need a stupid looking keyboard/case on it.

Posted from BlackBerry Z10 via CB10

springbok

Does no one else see the irony of the name Typo, for a product that's supposed to help you type better? I guess it's just too obvious for everyone to be worth mentioning. Anyway, I loved my Bold 9900 for the keyboard. Got the Z10 for its screen size. Next phone would be a slider if BlackBerry made a new one. Here's hoping. ;) Oh, and I think Seacrest must be stopped.

Posted via CB10

scalemaster34

What sad is even Ryan Seacrest could afford to just buy BlackBerry.....

cappo40

From the preview at CES, it even clicks like a BlackBerry keyboard..

zx9r170

I'm concerned that if/when BlackBerry wins the lawsuit, that the BlackBerry haters will then start saying that's the only way BlackBerry can stay alive is to protect their patents by suing. All the anti-BlackBerry people I know have never even used much less owned one. I'm glad I couldn't hear my Nokia e71X ring when I was at work, because it gave me the opportunity to switch to a 9700 Bold, and I have had nothing but BlackBerrys ever since.

toppatoptobz

Thanks twitter for helping out BlackBerry case. Lol...

Posted via CB10

PatrickMJS

How Ryan Seacrest thinks he can do this without reaching a licencing agreement with BlackBerry is beyond me. I'm certain if anyone tried to rebroadcast or otherwise make money by using his radio show with his agreement, I'm certain he would be pretty quick to sue.

I guess sleazy is business as usual in the 21st century.

What is particularly galling is how BlackBerry had to pay $500 million to settle a frivolous patent lawsuit about 5 years ago from a U.S. patent warehouse where it was clear BlackBerry hadn't used their patent but it made such a big ballyhoo in the press BB settled just to get the story off the front page.

Welcome to the United States of America.

Posted via CB10

Rootbrian

Kick 'em in the air! Kick 'em to the infringement hole and scccoooorrreee!!!! I have a feeling blackberry will win this!

Posted via CB10

ttlub

Just saw Seacrest on Jimmy Fallen show showing off the Typo keyboard (BlackBerry key board copy). Jimmy mentioned his wife is strictly BlackBerry. The the next guest sits down and says has a Blackberry and iPhone. All agreed that the BlackBerry keyboard is the way to go that's why they are copying it I guess. Come on Chen get some commercials on that capitalize on this now while it's hot.

Posted Via Z10 Smarterphone