Apple is no stranger to the defendant’s chair in the courtroom. It’s been sued a number of times over the years, for a number of reasons — most recently over alleged patent infringements involving Siri.

But this new lawsuit from Noise Free Wireless seems a bit more serious. The small Silicon Valley company is claiming that Apple intentionally stole critical noise reduction technology from them…

ComputerWorld reports:

“Noise Free Wireless said it presented its technology at several meetings at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters and provided it with detailed technical information prior to Apple filing its own patent for a similar technology. The technology has gone on to be used in the iPhone 4 and 4S and all three iPad models, it said.

The case centers on U.S. patent 7,742,790, which was filed by Noise Free in May 2007 and awarded to the company in June 2010. It covers a method for reducing or canceling environmental noise, such as wind, from a voice transmission on a cell phone.”

Noise Free approached Apple with its technology shortly after filing the patent in 2007, and has since met with the company a number of times. According to the report, the two companies signed a non-disclosure agreement in late 2008, in order to protect one another’s IP and keep their conversations confidential.

But the relationship started falling apart in 2010, when Apple began talking with Audience, a rival noise reduction company. And it exploded in June of that year, when Apple filed a U.S. patent covering the “suppression of noise in a signal while retaining the user’s voice.” Noise Free says that the filing includes some of the ideas and inventions it presented to Apple under their non-disclosure agreement.

So, what it looks like is that Apple deliberately stole technology from Noise Free, in order to avoid what was likely to be an expensive partnership. As aforementioned, Apple has used the noise reduction tech in several of its popular products.

Of course, if there isn’t any truth to Noise Free’s claims, or if there’s little proof, we may not ever hear of this matter again. But on the other hand, if there’s weight to the company’s claims that Apple intentionally stole its intellectual property to avoid licensing fees, we could see Apple forced to pay one of the largest settlements in company history.

Interesting.

  • CollegiateLad

    I’m gonna rush to judgement and say Apple is guilty even though I have zero evidence otherwise. I’m with iDB, this looks serious. lol

  • seyss

    “stole” it? how is NFW doing WITHOUT it?

  • Good ole’ Apple stealing and copying. This is why I might get the iPhone 5. Lol

  • No way! Apple? Using other people’s R&D for their own financial benefit? Seems so unlike them.

    • Aleksander Azizi

      Haha, funny.

  • After “we may not even here of this matter again” he should’ve put “pun intended”. If you don’t get it, the article is about “noise cancelation”. Get it?

    • To be honest, it’s not funny if you have to explain it. But I still lol’d.

      • Lol. I had too, it would just fly over some people’s heads after they JUST read the article!

      • Yeah man, I “hear” ya! Lol

  • there is no evidence of anything yet. Just because you have an NDA doesn’t mean others haven’t had the same ideas before you. They may not disclose it to you, just because you did. There could well be evidence but this company is trying to negotiate in the media instead of in the courts, when we do not know one way or the other. For the author to present it as if company A or B is stealing should be libel, or they should provide the evidence in the media as well.

  • Obsidian71

    Great Artists ..steal.

    Steve Jobs

  • FrankensteinBlack

    Hey Noise Free “Fools Rush in” and an NDA + Pat-Pnd doesn’t mean squat in these days of high stakes patents. You should have waited until the patent was actually granted! Sayin…

  • SimonReidy

    but but.. I thought all Apple’s ideas were 101% original, and magical and revolutionary? This has shattered my image of Apple being a small, lovely, innocent, family run business with a strong sense of ethical behaviour 😉

  • lrd555

    What did the other company, Audience, have to offer Apple? If I recall correctly, Apple may have licensed Audience’s noise reduction technology. If that’s the case, then the fight should be with Audience and not Apple. Unless, Apple used NFW’s meetings to jump start their efforts; or if Apple used NFW to enhance the other companies technolgy; then Apple should pay a reasonable licensing fee to NFW. That would be the fair thing to do.

  • Lance G Jobson

    The headlines scream about Apple Computer stealing other companies’ technology for use in Apple products. What’s the big deal, when you consider the whole basis of Capitalism is based on “stealing”. Profits, that is, which are nothing more than legalized extortion, i.e., stealing the excess value produced by workers’ labor and over which the worker has no power at the point of
    production, or for services rendered.

    Now, there is a case of colossal institutionalized theft, systemically entrenched and enforced by the State, by the laws, courts, cops and armed forces and especially by the duopoly political class. Note too, that any groups that stand-up in organized resistance to the injustice that enforces an elite group of corporate owner-stock market investors from stealing this value created by wage earners in the form of profits and $ return on investments and to insure all resistors will be dealt with severely when they demand a greater piece of the pie; workers are then sanctioned by denial to rights of a livelihood, by being fired, arrested or incarcerated in the prison-industrial complex. The latter a modern form of concentration camps increasingly privatized by the for-profit industry, or by the protection-security arm of the Government under the control of a capitalist dictatorship.

    If the media was really concerned about Apple stealing from others, those “others” would be the poor mass of workers forced to slave for starvation wages in Chinese factories, working and living in sweat shop conditions for sixteen hours a day and barely able to subsist. Meanwhile, Apple
    executives and shareholders make super-profits, gaining country club incomes and rich off the backs of these thousands of super-exploited laborers. Now, there’s the REAL theft in the global marketplace that gets ignored by the media, academia, armies of blind-eyed apologists and mind controlled advocates for this system based on STEALING.