Typo Products and BlackBerry Ltd. have agreed to settle their patent war over the sale of smartphone keyboards. According to the settlement, Typo will discontinue the sale of keyboards for smartphone screens less than 7.9 inches. Typo can no longer sell for iPhone but can continue in the case of the iPad mini or bigger devices.
Typo Products LLC was the brainchild of American Idol presenter Ryan Seacrest along with Laurence Hallier, the CEO of Show Media and privately held Hallier Investments. With an investment of $1 million, Seacrest went on to become Typo's primary backer. Typo Keyboard was essentially created to aid those people who wanted the QWERTY features on their new touch enabled smartphones, especially iPhones.
Hallier and Seacrest hit upon the idea in a restaurant when they noticed that they had laid out 2 phones each, "one phone for typing, and another for apps."
On 29 August 2014, Blackberry sued Typo. Blackberry has called Typo's creation as "a blatant infringement against BlackBerry's iconic keyboard". Blackberry had sued Typo right in time as the latter started shipping its pre-ordered keyboards. John Chen, BlackBerry's new CEO called the lawsuit a a move to protect BlackBerry's rights.
Typo's CEO Laurence Hallier said, "We don't believe we've violated any of BlackBerry's patents, and we did do due diligence. We're going to defend this vigorously."
A court handed down an injunction to Typo, following the lawsuit filed by Blackberry in January 2014. A US District Judge in San Francisco ruled that Typo will have to pay the $860,600 as a fine for violating the injunction and continuing to sell the product. BlackBerry had initially asked for $2.6 million in penalties. Typo had to discontinue sales henceforth.
Typo 2 was launched in December 2014 and its makers alleged that they had taken all measures to avoid any legal complications this time round. On 18 February, BlackBerry once again slapped a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California against Typo Products. The Typo 2 Keyboard was once again criticised for blatantly copying "BlackBerry's iconic keyboard trade dress designs".