BlackBerry sues Ryan Seacrest's company over iPhone keyboard

TORONTO Fri Jan 3, 2014 3:54pm EST

Host Ryan Seacrest isseen during a commercial break at the Season 12 finale of ''American Idol'' in Los Angeles, Calfiornia May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Host Ryan Seacrest isseen during a commercial break at the Season 12 finale of ''American Idol'' in Los Angeles, Calfiornia May 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Phil McCarten

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd said on Friday it had filed a lawsuit against a company co-founded by "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest that offers a physical keyboard that can be attached to some of Apple Inc's touchscreen iPhone 5 models.

The company, Typo Products LLC, is currently taking pre-orders for the $99 keyboard, which features angled miniature keys similar to those used on many of BlackBerry's devices.

Canada's BlackBerry, a once dominant smartphone maker that has lost market share to the iPhone and other touchscreen devices, said Typo's keyboard infringes its own design.

The allegation has not been proven in court. Typo and Seacrest could not immediately be reached to comment on the legal proceedings.

"We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations," Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry's chief legal officer, said in a statement.

BlackBerry posted billions in losses in recent quarters as its latest devices sold poorly, but it has maintained a loyal niche of customers who prefer to type on a physical keyboard.

The BlackBerry complaint is case no. 3:14-cv-23 in the United States District Court for the northern district of California.

(Additional reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Gunna Dickson)

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