BlackBerry sues Ryan Seacrest's Typo to block keyboard

Saturday, 4 Jan 2014 | 9:41 AM ET
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Ryan Seacrest, please check in with your office—just don't use your Typo keyboard.

BlackBerry announced Friday it has filed a patent infringement suit in California against Typo Products, charging the company "blatantly copied" the smartphone maker's signature qwerty keyboard.

Typo, which is backed by American Idol host Seacrest and entrepreneur Laurence Hallier, bills its keyboard case as an add-on for Apple's touch-screen iPhones. On its website, Typo announced the keyboard is available for pre-order. The Bluetooth-enabled product mimics a hard keyboard—similar to the keys that are a staple on BlackBerry phones.

Toronto-based BlackBerry is telling Typo to halt its fancy thumbwork.

BlackBerry sues keyboard maker Typo
BlackBerry has filed a lawsuit against Typo Products, a company co-founded by Ryan Seacrest, reports CNBC's Julia Boorstin.

"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, in a statement.

"We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations," he added.

In a statement, Typo said Blackberry's claims "lack merit" and it intends to defend the case "vigorously." The company said its "innovative keyboard design... is the culmination of years of development and research."

Last month, Seacrest announced a $1 million investment in the start-up, born from what he said was a desire to not have to carry two devices.

--By CNBC.com

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  • Matt Hunter is the senior technology editor at CNBC.com.

  • Cadie Thompson is a tech reporter for the Enterprise Team for CNBC.com.

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.

  • Jon Fortt is an on-air editor. He covers the companies, start-ups, and trends that are driving innovation in the industry.

  • Lipton is CNBC's technology correspondent, working from CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau.

  • Mark is CNBC's Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bureau Chief covering technology and digital media.