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Libra keyboard design will be changed to avoid Brydge patent, creator says

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Brydge says mock-ups still infringe its patent

The Libra keyboard connected to an iPad Pro.
Photo: Sam Byford / The Verge

The team behind the Libra keyboard says it will change the product’s hinge design to avoid a patent owned by Brydge, which is known for making iPad keyboard attachments. Libra’s creator, Sentis, said it “would like to apologize publicly” in response to Brydge’s complaint, and that it does not expect product delays because of the redesign. But after reviewing mock-ups of the changes, Brydge says they don’t go far enough.

Brydge sued to take down the Libra keyboard last week, claiming that the product infringed on a patent it owns and on which its own keyboards rely. The patent largely focused on the pair of U-shaped hinges that Brydge’s keyboards use to hold onto an iPad and then rotate open and closed like a laptop. Brydge’s CEO said it was “a bit of a kick in the face” to see Libra launch on Kickstarter.

In an update to backers, Sentis said it was “unaware” of the similarities between their designs. “In order to avoid further arguments, we have decided to redesign Libra’s keyboard hinge,” the company wrote. The new design will have a different look, and Sentis said it will share images later this week. Mock-ups included with the post still show a U-shaped hinge design, just one that connects across the entirety of the keyboard, rather than having separate hinges at either end.

“Again, please accept our sincerest apologies,” Sentis wrote.

Brydge says that, based on the images posted, the Libra keyboard still infringes on its patent. “We believe it is important that your backers are aware of this so that they can make an informed decision,” Brydge wrote in a comment beneath Sentis’ post.

A mock-up of what seems to be the proposed redesign. The hinge now connects from side to side.
Image: Sentis

The Libra keyboard immediately stood out when it launched on Kickstarter for being one of the very first iPad keyboard attachments to include a trackpad. Apple just added mouse support to iPadOS last month, and for people who want to turn their iPad Pro into something that closely resembles a MacBook Pro, Sentis quickly gave them an option. (Though shipping isn’t expected until January.)

My colleague Sam Byford tried out the keyboard last week, writing that “the Libra isn’t perfect but is useful for writing and editing.”

Brydge revealed that it, too, is working on an iPad keyboard with a trackpad. It intends to start shipping limited quantities in January or February.

Brydge’s keyboard connected to an iPad Pro.
Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge

Sentis’ redesign throws another wrench into Brydge’s already complicated lawsuit over the Libra. Brydge didn’t actually sue Sentis, seemingly because it could not find any information on Sentis, and it instead sued a company called OGadget, which later said it had only done marketing for Sentis. Brydge also sued Kickstarter, seemingly with the intent of getting the product taken down before the crowdfunding campaign could end.

Brydge says its lawsuit will continue “until our intellectual property rights are respected and infringement of our patent ceases.” Despite claims from Sentis that the two companies are “actively communicating,” Brydge says that it still hasn’t heard from Sentis directly.

Sentis’ Kickstarter campaign now has almost 1,780 backers and $228,000 raised.