Bose sues Beats over noise-cancelling patents

By , Jul 25, 2014

Apple Beats deal (Tim Cook, Jimmy Iovine, Eddy Cue and Dr Dre 001)

As Apple is prepping to shell out $3 billion to buy Beats Music and Beats Electronics’ high-end headphone biz, reports are coming in that audio equipment specialist Bose has gone on the offense and is now taking Beats Electronics to court over its noise-cancelling headphone patents.

Bose alleges its patented tech is used in the Beats Pro noise-cancelling headphones and other products like the Beats Studio and Beats Studio Wireless.

Furthermore, Bose is now seeking financial damages and a sales ban on some Beats headphones, claiming patent infringement. Bose develops, markets and sells a vast range of loudspeakers, noise-cancelling headsets, automotive sound systems, amplifiers and headphones.

Needless to say, Bose holds a number of patents in this space. Its QuietComfort line of headphones has in particular proven itself popular with consumers who want to get away from outside noise. And just like Beats, Bose gets frequently criticized as some reviewers slam their high-end products for being overpriced and of average quality…

The news was first reported in a tweet by CNBC.

Bose’s current lineup of noise-canceling headphones incorporate “at least 36 U.S. patents and applications,” according to court documents, 22 of which are granted patents and 14 applications are currently undergoing review by patent authorities.

According to Bose’s full complaint filed with the United States International Trade Commission on Friday, listed on Priorsmart, the following patents are being asserted against Beats:

  • 8,073,151: “Dynamically configurable ANR filter block topology” by Joho et. al.. Includes 30 claims (2 indep.). Was application 12/430,994. Granted 12/6/2011.
  • 8,073,150: “Dynamically configurable ANR signal processing topology” by Joho et. al.. Includes 24 claims (2 indep.). Was application 12/430,990. Granted 12/6/2011.
  • 6,717,537: “Method and apparatus for minimizing latency in digital signal processing systems” by Fang et. al. Prosecuted by Thelen Reid & Priest LLP Robbins; Steven J.. Includes 19 claims (3 indep.). Was application 10/179,930. Granted 4/6/2004.
  • 8,345,888: “Digital high frequency phase compensation” by Carreras et. al.. Includes 16 claims (3 indep.). Was application 12/750,309. Granted 1/1/2013.
  • 8,054,992: “High frequency compensating” by Sapiejewski.. Includes 23 claims (6 indep.). Was application 11/409,894. Granted 11/8/2011.

The civil complaint (Bose is a privately-owned company) mentions Beat Electronics and Beats Electronics International as defendants.

Beats has been building high-end headphones since 2005. Bose, on the other hand, has been in the business since 1964 so it’ll be interesting seeing how this one plays out.

Each company has found lucrative success, but the timing of Bose’s complaint is impeccable, no question about it.

CEO Tim Cook said during last earnings call with Wall Street analyst that the Beats transaction would close during the current quarter. Because the transaction is still pending regulatory approval, any damages stemming from the lawsuit could be factored into sale price.

Beats Powerbeats (image 001)
The Beats Powerbeats noise-cancelling headphones.

Various Beats products, as explained on the company’s website, tap three different technologies to surprise outside noise: noise-isolation, noise-cancellation and adaptive noise-cancellation.

Founded in 1964 by Amar G. Bose, Framingham, Massachusetts-headquartered Bose Corporation specializes in audio equipment. The company has eight manufacturing facilities, 153 retail stores as of April 2013 and an automotive subsidiary in Stow, Massachusetts.

I’m not a big fan of lawsuits though I’ll be the first to admit it’d be heck of a fun watching Bose’s legal sharks cross examine Beats’ Jimmy Iovine.

I’ve reached out to both Apple and Bose and will update the story if either company responds, or as more information becomes available.

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  • Jon20

    Wow!! After all this time that Beats has been in business, and NOW they try to sue… I guess it’s true that once you make it big you are more of a target for lawsuits. That’s a shame.

  • Framboogle

    Beats are crap anyways

    • iBanks

      But probably sell more headphones than Bose on a daily basis.

    • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

      If it uses Bose intellectual property then Bose are “crap anyways” too…

      • Framboogle

        By that logic you’re saying samsung phones are basically iPhones

      • Saria Hajjar

        Uhm…. WHAT?
        He means that Bose is sueing Beats for patents that they – Bose – claim are theirs, and you said that Beats are crap, thus, trash-talking Bose in the process.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        And by that logic, when people say Samsung phones are crap, they’re trash talking iPhones too, ’cause iPhones use Samsung’s technology for flash storage and RAM…that’s what @Framboogle was talking about.

      • Saria Hajjar

        Oh yeah… Either you’re trying to be annoying (which you are, given the amount of annoying comments I’ve read that were posted by you, and no, I’m not talking about your preference, but the way you present it) or you just have some things mixed up.

        What you’re saying is: Since we’re all humans, then offending my FRIEND (in the “joke” context) would basically mean offending the human race. WUT, M8?!

        If that’s the case, then Windows and OSX are the same; they all use 0s and 1s in the “deep deep down” context.

        Using something isn’t the picture, the way you use it is.

        @MrElectrifyer:disqus You might wanna give it another 5 before irrationally posting anything.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Right, either you’re trying to be ignoramus (which you’re sounding like) or you’re misinterpreting what Framboogle posted.

        What you’re saying is: Since we’re all humans, then offending my FRIEND (in the “joke” context) would basically mean offending the human race. WUT, M8?!

        First off, that’s a totally inapt analogy. Second off, I was giving an example of what you and Aidan’s logic implied. Finally, what Aidan was implying, in terms of humans, is that:

        - say person A makes some kind of shirt, but wears it with a special pair of trousers

        – person B likes that type of shirt and buys one from person A

        – you’re trash talking person B because of the shirt and trouser combo he wore

        – According to Aidan Harris, you’re indirectly trash talking person A, ’cause he too wears that shirt

        Using something isn’t the picture, the way you use it is.

        Agreed, but that’s not what was being implied by Aidan, yet you were supporting him when you posted:

        He means that Bose is sueing Beats for patents that they – Bose – claim are theirs, and you said that Beats are crap, thus, trash-talking Bose in the process.

      • Dani Hayes

        Both are.

    • Antzboogie

      Hater they sound awesome to me and to be honest I didnt know headphones could sound this good until Beats. Where are all these other headphones marketing at? Lol.Trust me a lot of people feel this way.

      • Dani Hayes

        As a producer I have used many headphones through the last fifteen years. It’s all about personal opinion and preference. Mine is that Beats are overpriced novelty headphones. Much like Skull Candy’s are.

  • http://mezcudi.tumblr.com/ Mezcudi

    In all honesty I love BOSE headphones more than Beats, Beats are more for marketing reasons.

    • iBanks

      Actually they aren’t just for marketing reasons. They serve a purpose for a different style of music. Boss will focus more so on the clarity of the sounds. Beats on the other hand gives you more so of a powerful hit to simulate the sounds of an audio system in an car.

  • Derp

    Apple and Beats go well together both overpriced. Whatever beats cost you can buy a better pair of headphones for cheaper. Just like with Apple iMacs and MacBooks you can buy a PC with WAY better specs for the same price or less.

    • iBanks

      Specs aren’t everything especially if the software running on the machine isn’t utilizing the specs to its max. What’s 8 gigs of ram and an 8 million quad core processor’s benefits to a machine tgats used just to play solitaire and watch porn? -Sarcasm

    • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

      Tell me what other computers I can buy where if I break or damage them I can take them directly to the manufactures store and have them repaired the very same day? When you buy Apple you do so more than just for the product itself you do it for the entire experience. The products, the services and the software all go hand in hand together.

    • Shadowelite123

      Lol are you serious? Specs don’t mean a thing but it being a flash card. Nearly very top of the line professional uses Macs for their work. When someone says that they want a product of quality and power, they think of macs. It’s the same in the smartphone war. The galaxy S5 has better specs than the 5S, but the 5S beats the S5 but a significant amount. That’s complete proof that specs don’t mean a thing

    • Chindavon

      You mean, both make a ton of money and are the face of today’s Pop culture.

    • Ajax

      and the pc will last a month before it breaks down and needs something to be replaced.

      • eXoguti093

        While everyone else goes on saying they have their 3-5 year old macs or MacBooks still as their main computer :)

      • Colin Day

        Posted from a 7 year old Black MacBook hooked up to the 42″ flatscreen via HDMI and running at full 1080p and used as my main computer :)

      • eXoguti093

        We need new black MacBooks..

      • Colin Day

        Agreed, I’d love a new Blacktop with modern specs :)

  • phdlynn

    Could be Apple’s deep pockets are the reason for the suit now. Better now than after Apple completes the sale. Is is possible today to make any product, even in a vacuum, and not violate numerous patents?

  • M_thoroughbred

    there should be a law that if you know someone is violating the patents you own you should use as soon as possible not wait till years go by and that someone or company becomes successful. If you as a company wait that long there shouldn’t be any punitive damages paid to that company instead enforce an agreement to have them pay you for a license from the moment the court find that company of infringement. By the way I prefer Bose over Beats.

  • Okhoo

    Those Powerbeats aren’t noise cancelling⚠️⚠️

  • ready1take1

    No highs, no lows, must be Bose!

  • Biscuit

    They picked a great time to sue!