Blackberry maker faces new lawsuit

The makers of the Blackberry are being sued over an alleged infringement of a patent on text input.

Specifically, US company Eatoni Ergonomics claims that the Blackberry 7100’s predictive texting technology, SureType, infringes the patent that it registered to protect its own predictive technologies: LetterWise and WordWise. The patent, Eatoni claims, covers the deployment of predictive text using a keyboard on a mobile device although the wording is not quite so precise.

Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) developed SureType in order to reduce the size of the keyboard – each key represents two letters rather than one – to fit it on narrower devices such as the 7100.

Eatoni claims that it owns a fundamental patent on reduced keyboards and related technology which look, feel, and act like a full Qwerty keyboard.

‘The problem,’ alleged Howard Gutowitz, president of Eatoni, ‘is that the RIM 7100 is good, good enough to infringe the patent, but not good enough to create a new standard for mobile text entry. That’s why we have to stop it now, and hopefully convince RIM and others to introduce new devices which implement the technology properly.’

Gutowitz said that if RIM is serious about predictive text then Eatoni would show them how to do it.

‘Unfortunately, up to now, they’ve shown an intense disdain for making money matched only by their joy in paying legal fees,’ he remarked.

Eatoni is seeking a permanent injunction against the manufacture and sale of the 7100 and similar devices.

RIM has so far declined to comment but in its court filings it claims that the Eatoni patent is invalid for several reasons including the lack of originality.

RIM has already been involved in a long-running court battle with NTP over patent infringement claims regarding wireless email – Mixed results for Blackberry court battle.

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