from the lots-of-ways-to-be-wrong-and-Typo-found-most-of-them dept
Ryan Seacrest’s Typo (because it is never to be referred to simply as “Typo” in headlines or opening paragraphs), maker of physical keyboard accessories for iPhones, was sued by RIM (maker of formerly-popular Blackberry phones) for patent infringement earlier this year. The ailing phone manufacturer took issue with the keyboards made by Ryan Seacrest’s Typo, which it felt veered a bit too close to “looking damn near like a Blackberry keyboard.”
The fact that most keyboards look like other keyboards notwithstanding (although the Ryan Seacrest’s Typo keyboard did seem to cop a lot of the “look,” if not the “feel” of Blackberry’s vertically-aligned and contoured keys), the judge found RIM’s claims substantial enough to grant a preliminary injunction barring the sale of keyboards. Ryan Seacrest’s Typo apparently thought an injunction was nothing more than a fancy way of saying, “do whatever the hell you want to.” (Court order PDF)
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick agreed to let BlackBerry proceed with contempt of court proceedings after the Canadian phone maker showed that Typo has been selling keyboards in violation of the earlier order.
“I am very concerned with what appears to be deliberate contempt of the preliminary injunction by Typo,” wrote Orrick, pointing out that the company shipped around 15,000 keyboards despite the ban.
The court order touches on a lot of seeming wrongdoing by Seacrest’s Typo, including multiple shipments being sent to Canada, the Middle East and Asia (Typo claimed these foreign sales weren’t bound by the injunction) and a large sale to a reseller (4,000 keyboards to SMI Investments — a company that Typo seems to be intertwined with) that occurred after the injunction was ordered but before it went into effect.
Seacrest’s keyboard company also went out of turn by asking the court to find that its modified keyboard does not infringe on RIM’s patents.
According to [Judge] Orrick, the existence of a “supposedly non-infringing design” was not relevant to the existing injunction. The judge added that Typo would have to bring a separate court proceeding to get an order related to the new designs.
Whether or not you agree that RIM’s patent infringement case has merit, Typo seems to have completely botched its response. Sure, all the cool kids and their acts of civil disobedience have netted them contempt charges over the years, but blowing off a preliminary injunction in this sort of case is hardly sticking it to The Man.
As for RIM, this lawsuit may be going its way, but it doesn’t really change the fact that a competitor saw a market niche and filled it. People still like physical keyboards, but they don’t seem to care much for Blackberries. If RIM wasn’t so stuck on the “you only get the keyboard if you buy the phone” strategy, it might have been able to capture this market before anyone else got to it, rather than just play spoiler by suing anyone veering too close to its look-and-feel.