A Typewriter for Your iPhone? Typo Responds to BlackBerry’s Suit with Odd Defense

Ryan Seacrest co-owned company Typo has filed its retort to BlackBerry, in response to the cell phone manufacturer’s accusations that Typo infringes on its mobile keyboard patent.

When Typo’s product, an external keyboard that attaches to the bottom of an iPhone, debuted at CES last month, we called it out for what it is: a “blatant, blatant copy.” BlackBerry agreed, and soon filed suit, calling the Typo an “obvious knock-off”, and gunning for the hardware manufacturer to cease production and hand over its profits.

Typo’s response this week exhumes the history of the QWERTY keyboard, claiming that the device’s layout traces its lineage all the way back to Smith Corona typewriters. Working against Typo is the fact that no one saw the device and said “Now I can finally attach a Smith Corona typewriter to my iPhone!” Given this line of defence, Typo showed a certain amount of restraint by not invoking the origins of the English alphabet in its filing.

Within the documents reported on by Canada.com, Typo gripes that “BlackBerry seeks a monopoly on keyboards for any device.” That will be a challenging claim to prove in court; we haven’t heard of any lawsuits launched by BlackBerry against products like Logitech’s external Bluetooth keyboards for tablets, although it is possible that Logitech and others have paid BlackBerry their patent dues prior to manufacture.

BlackBerry’s lawsuit calls to mind another Ontario technology company that has fallen largely out of favour with consumers, and is now embroiled in a legal battle against an American company that it accuses of damaging its business. Last month, St. Catharine’s game developer Silicon Knights lost its final appeal against an Epic Games countersuit, and is on the hook for $9.2 million in damages.