Design Infringement lawsuits: BlackBerry v. Typo and Apple v. Samsung

BlackBerry Vs Typo Products

BlackBerry Ltd. on 3rd January, 2014, filed a case against Typo Products LLC, in the California Northern District Court, for design infringement of their famous QWERTY keyboard.

The subject matter of the case alleged by BlackBerry is based on the design of a keyboard that can be snap-fitted on to an iPhone, so as to make it look like the BlackBerry keyboard. The design was claimed to be an infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. D685,775 and U.S. Patent No. 7,629,964.

The Judge granted a preliminary injunction in favor of BlackBerry’s registered design over the keyboard. The defendant Typo Products LLC was a company that had been selling a fitted keyboard for the iPhone, which was accused of infringing the keyboard design of BlackBerry’s phones.

The defendant later went out and sold products internationally and through various other means they also promoted products which were under the court order to discontinue selling the product. This disregard for the injunction passed raised a fine of USD 860,000 along with attorney’s fees and cost for the Typo contempt of court case which is to be paid to BlackBerry.

In response, Typo has released a second version of its keyboard called ‘Typo 2’ which is claimed to not fall under the ambit of the preliminary injunction. However, BlackBerry has filed a lawsuit for continuing to infringe upon their design patents. BlackBerry in its latest statement on 1st June, 2015 has agreed to enter a settlement. The settlement will require that Typo Products agree to permanently discontinue selling the products anywhere in the world for smart phones and mobile phones that have smaller than 7.9 inch.

Apple Vs Samsung

In another case of mobile design infringement, the Apple Vs Samsung had a recent development where the USPTO held that an iPhone design patent was invalid which will cause a drastic change in the damages awarded in the first court decision. The particular U.S. Design Patent No. D618,677 was found to be invalid by the USPTO’s Central Reexamination Division on 5th August, 2015.

The USPTO has also not allowed Apple to claim prior filing dates of two patents relating to the same design and is therefore considered as prior art, which does not meet the requirements of patentability. This change in the validity of the design patent has helped to reduce the damages awarded in the initial district court decision.

Apple and Samsung have agreed to participate in a court supervised mediation to settle their ongoing patent infringement battle. This decision to enter into a settlement stems from the second damages retrial which is set for 2016 which would be the third jury trial of the initial Apple Vs Samsung case, where the award for damages was USD 1.05 Billion. However this amount has been continuously reducing due to partial retrials and successful Federal circuit appeal by Samsung.  Apple is pursuing to protect its current damages award of USD 548 Million from its initial jury decision.

Author: Ryan Albert Mendonca

Contributed by Industrial Design (Design Patent) division of BananaIP in India
For information on Industrial design law in India, write to [email protected]

Sources: here, here, and here