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BlackBerry suing Ryan Seacrest's keyboard startup (updated)

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Typo keyboard
Typo keyboard

BlackBerry is suing the maker of a snap-on keyboard accessory for smartphones. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company this week filed a complaint against Typo Products, which is backed and co-founded by Ryan Seacrest, claiming the company infringes on its patents covering keyboards.

A keyboard for your touchscreen phone

The product in question is a keyboard that can be attached to Apple's iPhone, offering physical keys as well as a protective case that encloses the device. The $99 accessory became available for preorder last month, with an expected launch in the coming weeks.

"This is a blatant infringement against BlackBerry's iconic keyboard, and we will vigorously protect our intellectual property against any company that attempts to copy our unique design," BlackBerry's general counsel and chief legal officer Steve Zipperstein said in a statement. "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."

This isn't the first time BlackBerry's sued another company over its keyboard patents. The company took aim at PDA-maker Handspring in early 2002, saying the physical keyboard resembled the functionality found in its BlackBerry phones. Handspring ended up licensing those patents, and the complaint was later dropped.

Update 9 PM ET: In a statement, Typo Keyboard said it plans to fight the case in court. "Although we respect Blackberry and its intellectual property, we believe that Blackberry's claims against Typo lack merit and we intend to defend the case vigorously," the company said in a statement to The Verge. "We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research." The company added that it would still be shipping pre-orders later this month.