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Ryan Seacrest's tech company says BlackBerry keyboard lawsuit 'lacks merit'

TORONTO - Typo Products will defend itself against legal claims by BlackBerry that the startup company's new keyboard case for iPhones rips off the Canadian company's famous design.

The Los Angeles-based company, which was co-founded by "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, says the BlackBerry lawsuit lacks merit.

Last week, BlackBerry (TSX:BB) accused Typo of copying its keyboard design in an effort to capitalize on the smartphone maker's "commercial recognition and goodwill.''

None of the allegations have been tested 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," Typo said in a statement.

"We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research."

BlackBerry is seeking numerous rulings, including damages from Typo, all of Typo's profits and a stop to future sales of the keyboard technology.

Seacrest is a well-known player in the entertainment industry as host of "Idol," the weekly countdown radio show "American Top 40,'' and a producer on several television shows. He founded Typo alongside entrepreneur Laurence Hallier, creator and CEO of Show Media, which sells advertising space on taxi cabs in the U.S.

The idea for the Typo keyboard was born when its founders noticed their friends were carrying two phones — "one for typing and correspondence and an iPhone for virtually everything else,'' the company said on its website.

The Typo case attaches to an iPhone 5 or 5S, the most recent Apple smartphone models, both of which have touchscreen keyboards.

The company says it still plans to debut the phone case this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, a major annual event that opens Tuesday in Las Vegas.

The case is already available for preorder online for US$99 and Typo says it plans to begin shipping to customers later this month.

BlackBerry shares were 32 cents higher at $8.41 in early afternoon trading Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Canadian Press

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