BlackBerry kicked off its 2014 with a lawsuit against the Ryan Seacrest-backed Typo Keyboards, a company that manufactures a case for the iPhone 5 and 5s that includes a physical keyboard. BlackBerry targeted Typo and its case because it felt that the keyboard "blatantly copied" the 'board found on BlackBerry's own smartphones. Now BlackBerry's fight against the Typo keyboard case has made some progress, as a U.S. judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking sales of the case.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick has ruled that BlackBerry is likely to succeed in its efforts to prove that Typo has infringed upon its patents and that Typo's arguments against the validity of those patents. "BlackBerry has convincingly shown that BlackBerry’s keyboard designs are a key driver of demand and goodwill for BlackBerry phones," Orrick explained, going on to say that Typo's target audience is people that like smartphones with physical keyboards, which is the very same group that BlackBerry typically goes after.
Typo had argued that because BlackBerry is struggling in the smartphone industry and losing market share, the device maker isn't being irreparably harmed by the existence of the Typo keyboard case. In response to Judge Orrick's ruling, Typo said that it was disappointed by the decision but that it plans to appeal the decision, adding that it will "continue to make and sell innovative products that busy people can’t live without."
Meanwhile, BlackBerry is unsurprisingly pleased with Judge Orrick's order. The company told Re/code that while it's "flattered" that Typo wants to attach its keyboard onto a smartphone, it "will not tolerate the deliberate use of [its] iconic design without proper permission."
BlackBerry has had a pretty rough go of things lately, posting losses in its recent earnings reports and watching as its older BlackBerry 7-powered hardware outsells its newer BlackBerry 10 devices. While this court victory is unlikely to help BlackBerry regain a meaningful amount of the market share that it's lost recently or anything like that, it is a bit of good news for a company that hasn't had much of that to share lately.