Libra redesigns its iPad Pro keyboard to avoid Brydge lawsuit

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Libra's original keyboard design for iPad Pro
Photo: Sentis

Libra is redesigning its iPad Pro keyboard with touchpad to avoid a recent lawsuit from Brydge.

The keyboard’s creator, Sentis, has publicly apologized to Brydge. But after reviewing mockups of the Libra’s redesign, Brydge says the changes are not enough.

Libra was shaping up to be one of the first iPad Pro keyboards with a built-in touchpad. It follows the release of iPadOS, which introduces mouse support to iPad for the first time.

The problem is that Libra looks a lot like the Brydge keyboard, which for years has been popular among iPad owners wanting a MacBook feel. And Brydge won’t let that slide.

Libra keyboard is getting a redesign

Brydge has already sued Sentis and Kickstarter, though which the Libra is being crowdfunded. It alleges the Libra infriges on a patent it owns, which covers Brydge’s U-shaped hinges.

Those hinges, which hold onto an iPad and allow it to be opened and closed like a notebook, are a hugely important part of Brydge. But Sentis says it was “unaware” of the similarities.

Even so, it has redesigned the Libra in an effort to avoid Brydge’s complaint.

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A mockup of the Libra’s redesign.
Photo: Sentis

“In order to avoid further arguments, we have decided to redesign Libra’s keyboard hinge,” Sentis explains in an update on its Kickstarter page. It has also shared mockups of the changes.

Not enough for Brydge

“Again, please accept our sincerest apologies,” the update continues.

Sentis says it does not expect the changes to delay Libra production. Backers can still expect their keyboards to start shipping next January. But it’s not out of the woods yet.

Brydge feels the changes Sentis has made are not enough. It says the Libra still infridges on its patent, and it wants to speak with Sentis directly to “resolve this matter quickly.”

“We will continue our legal acton against Sentis and Kickstarter until our intellectual property rights are respected and infringement of our patent ceases,” Brydge adds.

Brydge will add its own touchpad in 2020

Brydge certainly has a point. Sentis has made only a minor alteration to its hinge design. It is still U-shaped — the only difference is the hinges are now connected, not separate.

It may be that Sentis is forced to make further changes or scrap the Libra keyboard altogether, then.

That would surely be a disappointing to its more than 1,700 backers so far, who have pledged more than $228,000 since the Kickstarter project went live. But there will be alternatives.

Brydge has confirmed it is already working on a version of its own keyboard with a built-in trackpad for iPadOS. It plans to start shipping in limited quantities in January or February.