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Seacrest start-up facing commercial litigation for tech design

Celebrity television star Ryan Seacrest is facing patent infringement allegations from smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry. Seacrest is the subject of commercial litigation that alleges that his Los Angeles start-up company copied technology from BlackBerry in order to design keyboards for recent iterations of the iPhone. As a consequence, BlackBerry is looking to recover unspecified damages and force an injunction that would prevent the start-up, Typo Products, from producing the keyboard without permission.

So far, the keyboard dispute relates to a product that has not even hit the market. Typo Products is, however, taking advance orders on its Web site for the $99 iPhone accessory. The keyboard is a slip-on device that can be used on the iPhone 5 and 5s models, substituting for the touch-screen that is included on those phones.

The business dispute comes at a time of financial vulnerability for BlackBerry, which was an innovator in smartphone technology before the advent of the iPhone. Although BlackBerry has introduced its own touch-screen models, the iPhone is still outpacing that Canadian company's sales. BlackBerry still sells phones with physical keyboards that are popular among the business set - the keyboard design is at the center of this intellectual property dispute. BlackBerry may not be able to tolerate many more setbacks, as it reported a $4.4 billion loss during the most recent quarter.

Although legal action is pending in the case, it is not clear how much money BlackBerry is looking to recover from the tech start-up, started by Seacrest and an entrepreneur partner. The pair will be required to mount a defense against the allegations in the intellectual property dispute, which could lead to serious financial consequences. Business owners who are facing this type of accusations may benefit from the input of a qualified Michigan commercial attorney, who can help them learn more about their legal rights.

Source:  Detroit Free Press, "BlackBerry sues Ryan Seacrest start-up" Anthony McCartney, Jan. 04, 2014

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