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Home / Technology / Brydge sues Kickstarter for selling an iPad keyboard that he considers a clone

Brydge sues Kickstarter for selling an iPad keyboard that he considers a clone



iPad keyboard maker Brydge is suing the obvious creator of a very similar-looking competitor called Libra. Not only that, Brydge is also suing Kickstarter for launching a crowdfunding Libra keyboard campaign to infringe a Brydge patent. This patent addresses the key features that make a Brydge keyboard work: primarily a U-shaped hinge that allows the keyboard to be opened and closed like a laptop when attached to an iPad.

" To see something as brazen as this launch on Kickstarter … honestly, it is a small kick in the face for our employees to work tirelessly to build the reputation we have built, "says Nick Smith, CEO and co-founder of Brydge to The Verge .

Brydge wants the court to block all sales of the Libra keyboard, including the removal of Kickstarter's crowdfunding campaign, as well as a punitive damages claim for the alleged patent infringement. Bilby is Brydge's prototype keyboard and trackpad for the 1

2.9-inch iPad Pro.

Although there is a wide range of keyboard ports for iPads, Brydge's products were They are a model of Apple's laptops and look like a MacBook Pro when plugged in. My colleague Sam Byford recently cited it as one The Brydge keyboards are the "best option" for getting a laptop-like experience with the iPad Pro.

The Libra keyboard looks very much like a Brydge keyboard and is similarly attached to the iPad with a U-shaped clamp. According to Smith, the Brydge patent for clamping mechanics is the reason why many other keyboard manufacturers use folio designs or magnetic arrays to attach to tablets. "There is no doubt what we have is very unique," he says, "and that's why nobody else does."


The current Brydge Pro is connected to an iPad Pro.
Photo: Sam Byford / The Verge [19659012] In his lawsuit, Brydge includes a series of photos that show similarities between the two devices, from the hinges to the overall design. While Smith says that Brydge also has design patents to protect its keyboards, this lawsuit focuses only on the functional elements that make the keyboard mounts work, with the emphasis on the hinge.

However, the Libra keyboard has one big difference: it has a built-in trackpad, while Brydge does not provide any of its iPad products with a trackpad. To make the two devices look more similar, the lawsuit contains photos of an unpublished Brydge keyboard prototype with a trackpad.

According to Smith, Brydge is still weeks away from making its own iPad keyboard with integrated trackpad. Brydge hopes to start selling in January or February, although initially production will be limited to no more than 4,000 units. Smith says the first launch is largely referred to as "beta" because it wants to make sure that customers understand that the features of the trackpad are limited because only basic mouse functionality is available in iPadOS.

"We do not want to turn out to be great, but the iPad experience is not amazing," Smith says about the mouse features that iPadOS added last month were. With the beta launch, interested customers can use the product "know that iPadOS will improve".

Brydge announced that it sent a revocation letter to OGadget in mid-September and that OGadget had discontinued the sale of Libra on its website shortly thereafter. A picture of the Libra keyboard is still on the OGadget website, but the link to learn more about the product leads to an error page stating that the website is "no longer available". Strangely enough, Brydge is not sure that OGadget is making the Libra keyboard. OGadget appears to be the company behind the product, but a spokesperson says Brydge is "not sure". That's because the Kickstarter campaign for Libra and a press release are being marketed under the Sentis brand. Outside these two places Sentis does not seem to have an online presence – even the advertised website does not exist.

However, there are several ties between the two brands. Sentis refers to a YouTube page for "O Gadget" in his press release and to a Facebook Messenger page for OGadget in his Kickstarter campaign. OGadget also links to the Libra Kickstarter on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. However, OGadget does not indicate that it owns the trademark.

The Verge has emailed OGadget and received no response. We contacted Sentis via email and via Kickstarter and received no response.

This confusion is one of the main reasons why the real aim of the lawsuit is Kickstarter. The campaign, which started on September 24, currently has more than 1,700 supporters and has raised more than $ 220,000.

"Kickstarter is very important to us … but of course we had to involve Kickstarter in the claim to make sure it arrived downed," says Smith.

Brydge launched Kickstarter with a 2012 campaign that raised nearly $ 800,000 from more than 3,000 supporters. Since then, the company has released dozens of products, including keyboard accessories for most iPads. However, since the first campaign, none has appeared on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter will remove projects due to patent infringement, as stated on a copyright page sent by a spokesperson to The Verge . However, the company relies on judicial findings on violations that Brydge may not make long before the Libra campaign is completed. Suffering directly from Kickstarter seems to be meant to make a takedown quicker. The Kickstarter spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Brydge is not the first company to throw Kickstarter over projects it hosts. 3D Systems sued Kickstarter in 2012 for alleging that a crowdfunding-funded 3D printer had violated one of its patents. And in 2015, a patent trivial Kickstarter sued for directing a campaign for a cybersex product allegedly infringing a patent. Neither of the cases worked for the plaintiffs: both 3D Systems and the Patent Control dropped their cases.

Smith says Brydge is also targeting Kickstarter because, unlike OGadget, it is an American company apparently based in China.

"What is Libra at the end of the day? Libra is not a small company, "says Smith. "The Libra is basically a factory in Shenzhen that copies our product and uses Kickstarter to sell it, it's that simple."


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