How Ryan Seacrest’s Typo keyboard tried to sidestep BlackBerry’s court injunction (and lost)

A Las Vegas-based company that shipped thousands of units of its iPhone keyboard accessory to Canada in an attempt to work around a court dispute with BlackBerry has had its fingers slapped by a U.S. court.

Ryan Seacrest’s Typo Products LLC must pay Waterloo-based BlackBerry $860,600 after it sold an iPhone accessory with very familiar-looking QWERTY keyboard despite a court injunction ordering it to stop sales in March.

In a court order from the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California released Feb. 4, judge William Orrick orders Typo to pay BlackBerry the amount for selling 18,737 Typo keyboards since the injunction was put in place, to cover its legal fees, and as a penalty for disregarding the court’s injunction. While BlackBerry wanted more, to the tune of $2.6 million, arguing that its sales were impacted by Typo’s accessory that effectively gives the iPhone the same tactile typing experience of a BlackBerry, the judge said that wasn’t made clear.

The original Typo keyboard that BlackBerry says infringes upon its patents.

But Orrick did chide Typo for disregarding a court injunction, even though Typo argued that the 16,829 keyboard accessories sold outside of the U.S. didn’t violate that injunction.

“Typo’s not so clever attempts to evade the Court’s preliminary injunction is quite certain, and it is my obligation and intent to vindicate respect for and compliance with the Court’s orders,” he writes. “The amount of sanctions awarded is only a third of what BlackBerry sought and is directly tied to additional revenue that Typo could have expected from its illegal conduct.”

On Aug. 20, Typo shipped 6,804 of its unsold units from Las Vegas to Canada in a bid to continue to ship the keyboards to Canadian customers even if a court ruled that it wouldn’t be allowed to ship internationally.

“So we thought, you know what? Let’s store them in a country where they’re selling,” the deposition quotes Laurence Hallier, CEO of Typo, as telling the court. “And if we’re not allowed to ship internationally, if the judge rules against us that we can’t ship out of Las Vegas, then we’ll ship them out of Canada.”

But Orrick says that Typo failed to dot its I’s and cross its T’s with this strategy.

“Typo cannot evade the preliminary injunction by transferring enjoined products out of the United States for sale,” he writes. “Typo is enjoined from taking steps within the United States to sell or offer to sell these keyboards.”

Since the patent dispute with BlackBerry, Typo has come out with a new design for its accessory, called the Typo2. (Image: Typo)

Typo has to fork over the payment to BlackBerry in 45 days and it can no longer sell the accessory in question as a result of the court order. But it has already taken its first accessory off the market and replaced it with a newly designed keyboard.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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