Celebrities 2, Blackberry 0: That’s How This Will Probably Play Out

If anyone’s keeping score, that’s about the size of it.  First, they hired Alicia Keys to be their Creative Director.  I’ve got nothing against the woman, and may or may not have belted out a tune or two of hers in the shower which is too much information for a Tuesday morning.  Sorry.  But really?  Creative Director of a cell phone company?

Blackberry, you slay me.

It comes as little surprise then that the relationship, and whatever media cache’ they were going for with it, is over.  But after righting that wrong, they’ve gone off the deep end and are now suing the Ryan Seacrest-backed Typo for patent infringement.  I’m going to type that again because how often do you get to write about Ryan Seacrest on a patent troll blog?  That’s right, never.  Once more for good measure:

But after righting that wrong, they’ve gone off the deep end and are now suing the Ryan Seacrest-backed Typo for patent infringement.


I need to pre-order this bad boy.
Not a fan of the iPhone keyboard, never have been.

This does not make Blackberry a troll.  And this one instance does not even put them on par with the likes of Ericsson and Panasonic, who are starting to use patents instead of products for profit by privateering.  But you do have to wonder if they would be going this route if things were better for them financially.

If they were still at the top of their game, and actually they could do this now, they’d approach Typo Keyboards and Ryan not with a lawsuit, but a business proposition.  This product (and others) could be a whole new business sector for Blackberry that, while at $99 it is not a product line that is going to save a sinking ship, it could at least keep them afloat for a little longer, or allow them to branch out into something a little smaller for a bit.  Keep a few employees on the payroll while they reinvent themselves.

Ryan Seacrest Typo Keyboard

Jude Edginton/Redux for Wall Street Journal.
(Photoshop notwithstanding.)

Their mobile devices lost out to the likes of the iPhone and Droid and Galaxy.  Big whoop.  That happens to a lot of products over time.  But don’t make it worse by being a sore loser and going after a company that came up with a very cool idea!  You don’t own QWERTY and you don’t own tactile keyboards.  If you did, this very laptop I’m typing on would be in violation of your patent.  (If Blackberry now decides to sue you, I’m sorry Dell!)

“We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations,” [Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s general counsel] added.

Why you gotta be that way, Steve?  I don’t know Blackberry very well because they’re not a patent troll so maybe y’all did approach the Typo Keyboards folks and talk deal-making.  Who knows.  But it sure looks like you started negotiations with the daisy cutter bomb approach.  I’m all for shock and awe, just ask my kids, but is that really the preferred method?

I don’t know, I think the kinder, gentler approach may have been better here and it could also have opened you guys up to the peripheral market.  If mobile devices aren’t bringing home the bacon anymore, go find another pig.  This could have been your oinker, is what I’m saying.

Here’s the deal though…He may be no Ashton Kutcher when it comes to tech-savvy investments, but I’m betting Mr. Seacrest is willing to bankroll a pretty stiff defense to a move that smacks of desperation.



{Image of the Typo Keyboard found here, but it looks like that link now 404s.  Sorry!  Image of Mr. Seacrest found here, in a very interesting article about him.}

Bullies: Weighing in on The Verdict

This is a rarity for me, because I’m not going to link to or quote anyone else’s blog or news article in this blog post.  Can you even stand how original that will force me to be??  I think I feel a nervous tic coming on…

The thing that has always fascinated me about the patent realm, and it’s red-headed step-siblings copyright and trademark, is the personalities involved.  How much do you have to think of yourself to want to trademark the phrase “You’re Fired!”?  Donald Trump, I’m looking at you.  I’m a huge fan of The Donald, read The Art of the Deal when I was 13 and his personality has fascinated me ever since.  Same is true of the people involved in this blog’s namesake fiasco.  The very idea that two grown men can get so out of sorts for being called exactly what they are is just nuts.  Niro and Albritton went all batcrap crazy when Frenkel called them out for filing a lawsuit on behalf of ESN against Cisco for a patent that had yet to be issued.  Ooopsies.  So Frenkel labels ESN a troll and Niro and Albritton as their allies and they go freak nasty.  Again, personalities are cuhRAZY in this business.  Guys?  How about not doing stuff like that if you don’t want the label?  Or, if what you’re doing (i.e., being a Patent Troll) is nothing to be ashamed of, then why the lawsuits for defamation of character?  I’m no math whiz but something doesn’t add up.

So back to The Verdict, it’s public knowledge in IP circles that Steve Jobs had a personal issue with Samsung.  He was going to make them pay for stealing his design of the iPhone come hell or high water.  And he did.  And in the process do you want to know who really won?  The same people who always do in litigation:  THE LAWYERS.  I mean, don’t you guys watch television?  Harvey Spector’s suits don’t buy themselves, you know.  CLIENTS  (and by extension, customers) PAY FOR THEM.

You can take the Mark Cuban route and complain ad nauseum via twitter that you shouldn’t be able to patent a rounded-corner rectangle and that would be one angle (ha!) to take.  But it’s much more interesting to look at the whole picture, for me anyway.  You have a man who’s clearly a design genius.  If you look at the trial demonstratives that Apple put up vs. what Samsung put up Apple is the winner.  Don’t think that didn’t factor into the jury’s decision…patent law is confusing and if you don’t make it as easy as possible to understand then you’re behind the curve.

But my point is that a man who actually buys about $10 billion (it may be million, but again I promised myself no linking to other stories on this one)  in parts from Samsung was so burned by the fact that they designed a phone that looks similar that he dragged them into court and beat them to a pulp.  ??

If you can prove to me that someone who wanted an iPhone accidentally bought a Samsung phone and didn’t march immediately back to the store and exchange it then I’d be a little more OK with it.  But the fact is that if you want an Apple item you’re going to buy one, regardless of how similar-looking or similar-operating a competing product is.  Even if, and in some cases, for some people, especially if, it’s more expensive.  Why?  Because that’s the legacy that Steve Jobs built.  By suing Samsung he’s effectively saying “I don’t trust the company I built and  I don’t trust my customers to come to my stores if something else out there looks remotely similar.  So I’m not going to let anyone else come close.”

What are you so afraid of, Apple?  We love you.  I have two iMacs and three iPhones and if you made a DSLR I’d buy that too.  You don’t need to be a bully and knock everyone out of the game.  Just be who you are and build what you build.  People want it.  They will come.

Just sayin’,