American Idle: Seacrest keyboard startup Typo goes nowhere after BlackBerry bust-up

Copying the selling point of a dying company? Not ideal

Typo, the ill-fated iPhone keyboard startup backed by US media personality Ryan Seacrest, has agreed to discontinue much of its product line after settling a legal dispute with BlackBerry.

The struggling Canadian smartphone mogul said that it has agreed to a settlement with Typo that will see the accessory maker permanently shut down most of its operations. The settlement prohibits Typo from marketing any keyboards that work with devices with screens smaller than 7.9 inches – in other words, anything that looks like a BlackBerry keyboard.

Seacrest, who hosts the American Idol TV talent show, had initially endorsed Typo, thinking the company could offer physical keyboard extensions to touchscreen handsets. But BlackBerry quickly sued the firm for patent violation, claiming Typo devices shamelessly copied Blackberry smartphone handset keyboards.

Typo thought it could dodge BlackBerry's legal bullet by redesigning its product as the Typo2, but the Canadians sued again, and now it looks like they've scored a decisive victory.

The settlement will not totally dissolve Typo, but will effectively prohibit the company from selling accessories for phones. The firm's website currently only lists forthcoming keyboard products for the iPad Air and iPad Mini tablets.

Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, although BlackBerry verified that the settlement will end the legal battle between the two companies.

"Typo Products LLC, Typo Innovations LLC, Show Media LLC, Hallier Investments LLC, and Laurence Hallier may continue to sell keyboards for devices with a screen size of 7.9 inches or larger," BlackBerry noted. ®

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