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July 2014: Preliminary Injunction Victory for BlackBerry

July 2014

The firm recently obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of BlackBerry Limited to prevent defendant Typo Products LLC from selling iPhone cases that the court found were likely to infringe BlackBerry’s utility and design patents. BlackBerry has been a global leader in the mobile communications industry for 30 years, and its innovative, cutting-edge technologies changed the face of telecommunications long before the iPhone was even conceived. Since the late 1990s, BlackBerry has released a series of game-changing handheld mobile devices with physical keyboards that originally enabled users to send and receive email and messages on the go and eventually evolved into some of the world’s first smartphones. BlackBerry has put vast research, development and design efforts into its physical keyboards, which serve as iconic source identifiers of BlackBerry’s products.

The founders of defendant Typo Products LLC were very familiar with BlackBerry’s products because they were long-time BlackBerry users. One of them is TV celebrity Ryan Seacrest who has given interviews on his BlackBerry “addiction” over the years. Indeed, Typo recently began marketing and selling a case for an iPhone that incorporates a physical keyboard copying the distinctive keyboard design for BlackBerry’s current flagship model, the Q10, in every material respect. The fact that Ryan Seacrest allegedly put $1 million into the company and was promoting it in interviews from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to TMZ meant that Typo’s keyboard case had a high profile.

BlackBerry came to Quinn Emanuel to bring a complaint against Typo alleging infringement of BlackBerry’s patent and trade dress rights, which was filed on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show where the Typo keyboard debuted. Quinn Emanuel then put together preliminary injunction papers and expert declarations that left no doubt BlackBerry was likely to succeed at trial. At a hearing before Judge Orrick in the Northern District of California, the firm presented a compelling case for infringement of one utility patent and one design patent. Quinn Emanuel argued that BlackBerry would suffer irreparable harm not only from consumer confusion generally but also from negative reactions to the Typo product that was not made according to BlackBerry’s exacting standards.

One week later, the court issued an order granting a preliminary injunction finding likelihood of success on both patents, validity of both patents, and finding that BlackBerry was suffering irreparable harm on each of the grounds Quinn Emanuel asserted. The order repeats and adopts long passages taken from the motion papers and grants the requested injunction precluding Typo from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or promoting its sole product.