In early January, BlackBerry filed a patent infringement suit against Ryan Seacrest-backed start-up Typo Products concerning the latter’s iPhone keyboard accessory. But Typo has a few legal tricks of its own, and it is now fighting back in court.

On Feb. 18, Typo petitioned a U.S. judge to rule that the patents Blackberry seeks to enforce were never valid in the first place. Typo asserts that it cannot infringe BlackBerry’s patents because the Canadian smartphone maker’s claims do not actually comply with the legal requirements for patentability.

According to the Typo filing, one of the patents Blackberry  claims typo infringed should not have counted because the inventors did not disclose to the Patent and Trademark Office that two similar products — the Smith Corona Spell Mate 30 and the Smith Corona Spell Right 200 — already included the patented design before BlackBerry’s patent was ever approved.

With BlackBerry’s share of the smartphone market continuing to shrink to Samsung and Apple — and with the company’s sale currently pending — BlackBerry’s C-suite is looking to protect its intellectual property in any way possible. For BlackBerry, that means protecting its keyboard, perhaps the defining feature of the brand.

BlackBerry believes Typo threatens that brand with its iPhone keyboard accessary. The $99 keyboard would undoubtedly take away from the uniqueness of the BlackBerry product. In its initial filing, BlackBerry claimed that the accessory was a “blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard” and that its sale would pose “irreparable harm” to the company.

Typo said on Jan. 14 that the company had already sold out of its initial inventory, and new orders would go out at the end of February. In response to BlackBerry’s claims, Typo CEO Laurence Hallier said at the time, “We checked out the patents. We have been working on this keyboard for two years. We developed this from the ground up.”


This is just another chapter in the ongoing smartphone IP wars. Read more about it with us:

Samsung takes aggressive stance against Dyson

IP: The perfect storm that led to the rise of design patents

Nokia and HTC settle suits and pen cross-licensing agreement

Department of Justice closes Samsung patent probe