Typo's settlement with BlackBerry means it can no longer make and sell keyboards for the iPhone.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

June 1, 2015

3 Min Read
<p align="left">The Typo2 keyboard (Image: Amazon)</p>

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Chalk up one win for BlackBerry. The smartphone maker settled with an accessory company that made Bluetooth keyboards for the iPhone. Typo, which was backed by celebrity Ryan Seacrest of American Idol fame, agreed to cease offering its keyboards altogether.

Typo showed up in late 2013 as an accessory for the iPhone. It was a case that included a physical QWERTY keyboard at the bottom. The keyboard communicated to the iPhone through Bluetooth and let users type on real keys rather than the iPhone's glass screen. Ryan Seacrest was an investor in the company. The accessory sold for $99.

The whole point of the Typo was to let executives ditch their BlackBerries, but maintain a real keyboard for pecking out emails. BlackBerry didn't like that idea.

BlackBerry filed a lawsuit against Typo in early 2014, mere weeks after the product's debut, claiming patent infringement. Truth be told, Typo's physical keyboard strongly resembled BlackBerry's patented keyboard design. A court agreed. In March 2014, Typo was told its design likely violated BlackBerry's patents and it was given a cease and desist.

Typo went back to the drawing board and revealed its second-generation Typo keyboard early this year. The second-generation keyboard was somewhat different, but not different enough. The new device raised BlackBerry's ire once more, and it headed back to court. The court smacked Typo with an $860,000 fine for violating the cease and desist from 2014.

Facing the $860,000 fine and more court time was apparently too much for Typo, which agreed to settle instead.

As part of the settlement, Typo "agreed to permanently discontinue selling anywhere in the world keyboards for smartphones and mobile devices with a screen size of less than 7.9 inches," but the company "may continue to sell keyboards for devices with a screen size of 7.9 inches or larger."

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In other words, no more keyboards for smartphones. Typo is apparently allowed to make keyboards for tablets, but considering its one-and-only product was for the iPhone, it's unlikely Typo will continue forward.

All other terms of the settlement were kept secret.

One might bemoan the loss, but the Typo keyboards were never all that good.

The materials and construction were cheap at best. Worse, the design of the case added an elongated dimension to the iPhone that made it oblong and awkward to use. Steve Jobs famously bashed the physical keyboards of 2007-era smartphones as unnecessary and wasteful.

There's no denying that typing on glass is different from typing on real keys. Some prefer one over the other. For those who prefer real keys, BlackBerry has a few phones it would like to sell you.

About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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