It’s been all over the news lately that BlackBerry has filed a lawsuit against the Typo Products company, co-founded by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, for their latest iPhone Keyboard case invention. BlackBerry came out and alleged patent infringement against the company, saying that the iPhone Keyboard case is “a blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard.” Take note of the picture above and you will see the striking resemblance between Typo’s iPhone keyboard and the BlackBerry Q10’s keyboard.
However, does BlackBerry have enough to stand on to win their lawsuit? Well, unless previous competitors had to license with BlackBerry as well, the answer is, probably not. And here is why…
The Motorola Droid Pro is the perfect example of a past device that has a BlackBerry-like keyboard. The Droid Pro came out in 2010 when competitors were trying to capitalize on the QWERTY keyboard crazed fans. So Motorola took the BlackBerry keyboard design, slapped it on an Android device, and called it the Droid Pro. I specifically remember all the Droid Pro reviews at that time highlighting the fact that the keyboard was a ripoff of BlackBerry’s keyboard. So why didn’t BlackBerry go after Motorola at that time for patent infringement?
A couple things come to mind. Either BlackBerry had no need to go after the Motorola’s Droid Pro as it was not seen as a threat at the time, or BlackBerry has always had no case when it comes to patent rights over the mobile keyboard.
I don’t see why BlackBerry would not have gone after Motorola for their keyboard knockoff, as 2010 was a time when BlackBerry had already passed it’s pinnacle of success and began the downward spiral in marketshare. But then again, the Droid Pro never really gained enough traction to be a huge threat. On the other hand, the iPhone is already in the hands of millions of users, and adding a physical keyboard option just may sway some of BlackBerry’s much needed subscribers to cross on over to Apple’s iPhone.
I’ve reached out to BlackBerry in hopes to get more on whether there was a relationship between them and Motorola concerning the keyboard. I’ll be sure to update this article if and when I get any information.
Update: BlackBerry has declined to comment on any license related information. So looks like we’ll have to await the outcome of the Typo lawsuit.
The iPhone keyboard is set for pre-order at a $99.00 price tag this month after first debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week.