or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Bose files lawsuit against Apple's Beats over noise canceling tech
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Bose files lawsuit against Apple's Beats over noise canceling tech

post #1 of 95
Thread Starter 
Two of the biggest names in premium headphones --?Bose and soon-to-be-Apple's Beats -- are set to square off in court, with a new lawsuit filed on Friday by Bose alleging that Beats products infringe on its noise canceling patents.


Photo via Paul Stamatiou.


Bose Corporation filed the complaint against Beats Electronics, LLC and Beats Electronics International Limited in a Delaware court, asserting that Beats has infringed on Bose's "valuable patented technology for noise cancelling headphones." The lawsuit is joined by a complaint that has been filed with the International Trade Commission seeking an injunction.

Specifically, Bose accuses the Beats "Studio" and "Studio Wireless," which are advertised to feature "Adaptive Noise Cancellation," of infringing on its patents. Bose asserts to the court that "Beats knows or is willfully blind to the fact that" its products are infringing on its patents.

In the complaint, Bose states that the company pioneered the technology behind active noise reduction, which reduces unwanted noise by introducing a second sound source that interferes with it. Headphones featuring active noise reduction usually rely on a microphone to reduce background noise.

Bose has been selling its "QuietComfort" branded headphones with this technology since 2000. For the latest "QuietComfort 20" headphones, Bose says they are protected by U.S. Patent Nos. 6,717,537; 8,073,150; 8,073,151; 8,054,992; and 8,345,888. They are titled:

  • '537: "Method and Apparatus for Minimizing Latency in Digital Signal Processing Systems"
  • '150: "Dynamically Configurable ANR Signal Processing Topology"
  • '151: "Dynamically Configurable ANR Filter Block Technology"
  • '992: "High Frequency Compensating"
  • '888: "Digital High Frequency Phase Compensation"


If the lawsuit drags out, it could last until Beats officially becomes a part of Apple, which would make the lawsuit targeting Apple's bottom line. Bose is seeking damages in the suit of an unspecified amount.

Apple announced in May that it will buy Beats Electronics, which makes premium headphones, as well as the Beats Audio on-demand music streaming service for a combined $3 billion. As part of the deal, company co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will become employees of Apple.

Apple expects the deal to close in its fiscal fourth quarter, which concludes in September, pending regulatory approval. The full complaint from Bose is included below:

post #2 of 95
Beats has been around for how long? They wait until Apple is in the process of buying Beats to sue?
post #3 of 95
No one saw this coming?

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply

"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
Reply
post #4 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masteric View Post

Beats has been around for how long? They wait until Apple is in the process of buying Beats to sue?

Agreed. Bose is hoping for an easy settlement from someone with deep pockets.

post #5 of 95

Uhhhh, I wouldn't call Beats "premium".  Expensive, yes. Premium, no.

post #6 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post
 

Uhhhh, I wouldn't call Beats "premium".  Expensive, yes. Premium, no.

 

Um, Bose is overpriced for what you get, too.
(Former 301 Series 3 owner, loved them back in the day when I didn't know better)

Quality isn't expensive... it's priceless.

Reply

Quality isn't expensive... it's priceless.

Reply
post #7 of 95

I hope the timing of these lawsuits are as obvious to the courts as they are to us.

 

Perhaps they felt that Beats was too small a player to bother with until now? Now that it has the financial backing of Apple, yes, deep pockets indeed...

 

Why didn't they bring these suits a couple of years ago? I think Beats has been advertising noise cancellation tech for at least that long.

 

 

Another thought... The Beats deal is NOT final yet. Perhaps the suits are less about licensing, and more about trying to prevent Beats becoming a more worthy competitor (with the powerhouse that is Apple behind them). I'm sure they are looking at Blackberry and seeing a similar potential future with Apple more seriously entering their market space...  If enough "problems" surface, Apple could reconsider...?

post #8 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post
 

Another thought... The Beats deal is NOT final yet. Perhaps the suits are less about licensing, and more about trying to prevent Beats becoming a more worthy competitor (with the powerhouse that is Apple behind them). I'm sure they are looking at Blackberry and seeing a similar potential future with Apple more seriously entering their market space...  If enough "problems" surface, Apple could reconsider...?

The Beats deal included two departments/sections/whatever you want to call them. The Beats Music part was the lesser of the two by a wide margin. Maybe Apple could decide to split their original offer and not take Beats Music, at least until Bose backs off. Of course, Bose has to prove Beats is using their patented technology while Beats needs to prove it isn't. There usually are more than one way to do things and I can't believe Beats Music would have been so dumb as to not research the Bose patents before producing their own headphones. I see lots of headphones saying they have noise cancellation and I'm sure some of them don't use a microphone to do it. We'll see what the arm-chair lawyers come up with.

 

changing: my bad, Beats Music is the streaming stuff so most of my comments are wrong. I'm looking for Beats Electronics patent submissions for fun

 

update: I did a quick search using the USPTO, searching for "Beats Electronics" as the assignee and searching for "suppression", "cancellation", or "reduction" and nothing came up. Just searching for Beats Electronics found 23 patents. They do have one dealing with vibration confinement. I did a search of BeatsbyDre.com and found 36 hits for cancellation. That's where I found reduction listed. I'm not a lawyer but if they actually use the words noise cancellation or technology similar to Bose, then they could really be in trouble. I doubt Bose would want to license this technology to Beats.


Edited by rob53 - 7/25/14 at 12:17pm
post #9 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post
 

Uhhhh, I wouldn't call Beats "premium".  Expensive, yes. Premium, no.

 

Neither Bose or Beats are premium.

Hardly speakers/headphones/subwoofers are premium if you can find it at Best Buy

post #10 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masteric View Post

Beats has been around for how long? They wait until Apple is in the process of buying Beats to sue?

 

That's the way it's always done.  There are times during a clear infraction when it's not time to sue yet.  For example, if someone steals a song and puts it out as one of theirs you never sue until it's a hit, or until its arc is over even if it's years later.  Otherwise you have no damages to claim, and they won't have money to pay.   Similarly if your value of the claim is in the millions and you know the company has no net worth (though we know in this case Beats had money in the bank) you might sit tight for years just watching.  Very possible Bose has had this out in the open for a while and not filed, and approached Beats about a settlement and were blown off, either because they believed it was baseless or knew it wasn't and was going to play chicken with Bose as far as lawyers' costs vs possible recouping.

 

I have no opinion about the validity of the claims, but you can't make any judgement about it based on the time it was filed.  No one ever sues on the day of discovery of infringement.  One year or ten years doesn't make it more or less valid or ethical.


Edited by jlandd - 7/25/14 at 12:13pm
post #11 of 95

Bose: "Sooo.... I see you have some new, shiny, deep pockets there...  Mind if I help myself?"

You did not come into the world to fail. You came into the world to succeed.

- Gordon Hinckley

Reply

You did not come into the world to fail. You came into the world to succeed.

- Gordon Hinckley

Reply
post #12 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masteric View Post

Beats has been around for how long? They wait until Apple is in the process of buying Beats to sue?

The curious thing is that Bose didn't wait until the deal was done, if you wanted to assume the deeper-pockets rationale.

Perhaps it's that Bose wants to scotch that deal and interpose themselves in a partnership with Apple?

post #13 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masteric View Post

Beats has been around for how long? They wait until Apple is in the process of buying Beats to sue?

I was just about to say the same thing.
post #14 of 95
Here we go again. Another war against apple. Stop hating.
post #15 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by PScooter63 View Post
 

 

Um, Bose is overpriced for what you get, too.
(Former 301 Series 3 owner, loved them back in the day when I didn't know better)


This is just wrong.

 

Yes, Bose does not deliver the same sounds quality as other speaker companies in the same price range.

However, no one can deliver the combination of sound quality, design, and most importantly size (their speakers are amazing for their size) that Bose does. And this is largely because of the many patents they have developed and own.

 

I have never purchased a Bose product, but I have to give credit where its due.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if Beats infringes Bose's patents. Its not likely that they have any R&D of their own (unlike all the other speaker companies in this business).

post #16 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

Hardly speakers/headphones/subwoofers are premium if you can find it at Best Buy

Andrew Jones designed Pioneers are about the only exception.


Anyway, you know what they say: No highs? No lows? Must be Bose!
post #17 of 95

I actually bought two pairs of headphones last month, an Audio Technica headphone and a nice AKG headphone, Beats doesn't interest me at all. Sound trumps fashion and trends any day of the week, if you ask for my humble opinion.

 

Since the Beats deal seems to be a done deal, I'm not going to bother complaining about it that much anymore, but I will say that I'm still not crazy about it.

 

I also think that the IBM and Apple partnership trumps Beats, and overall, Apple is doing more right things than bad things, so I'm not mad.

post #18 of 95

Tim, time to renegotiate that Beats purchase price before it's too late.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #19 of 95
Bose is trying to fix it's low income by suing a company that will potentially have very deep products. Be scared of the lawyers Bose, be very afraid.
post #20 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

Tim, time to renegotiate that Beats purchase price before it's too late.

 

Apple needs to have some kind of clause in the contract, that Beats is liable for all copyright infringements and any other lawsuits that might happen, relating to all Beats operations and products before the date that Apple officially buys them.

post #21 of 95

Will be interesting to see how Beats/Apple responds. Will they settle or will they fight like a rabid street dog?

 

Bose has a history of trying to patent commonplace approaches to audio product design that had already existed long before their products came onto the market, and suing smaller audio companies that use these long-standing approaches. They also have whole portfolio of Rube Goldberg-like signal processing approaches that produce very marginal differences in the sound quality. For example, the Audiopilot noise compensation on some of their car audio systems is just overengineered garbage -- complexity for complexity's sake. A simple auto-leveling function would have been far more effective.

 

I suspect that buried in the pile of complexity (and likely patents) that Bose designs into their headphones, there's plenty of prior art. In the grand scheme of consumer electronics, the noise-canceling headphones market is not that huge and Bose actually got into the consumer market when their designs could not meet Dept. of Defense specifications.

 

If Beats/Apple wants to fight this, they should round up every professional aviation headset ever made and rip into the design approaches that those products used. Bose might be looking for a payday, but unlike Bose's other legal targets, Apple is not some sparsely funded family business. And they have deep enough pockets to dig up the kind of prior art that can invalidate the kinds of patents that Bose has been granted.

post #22 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post
 

Agreed. Bose is hoping for an easy settlement from someone with deep pockets.

 

It won't be any easier to collect from Apple than it would have beat from Beats before Apple.  The top shelf law firms of either would be arguing the same points to dismiss it.   Having deep pockets doesn't translate into easy settlements, especially if it will affect arguments in future headphone patent technology cases for them.

post #23 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

I actually bought two pairs of headphones last month, an Audio Technica headphone and a nice AKG headphone, Beats doesn't interest me at all. Sound trumps fashion and trends any day of the week, if you ask for my humble opinion.

 

Since the Beats deal seems to be a done deal, I'm not going to bother complaining about it that much anymore, but I will say that I'm not still not crazy about it.

 

I also think that the IBM and Apple partnership trumps Beats, and overall, Apple is doing more right things than bad things, so I'm not mad.

 

Apple could always turn around and decide to buy Bose, Klipsch, Polk, Audio Research, JBL, Audio Technica and others in the future... 

 

Personally, I think these particular accessories are subject as much to fashion trends as other consumer products.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #24 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

 

Apple needs to have some kind of clause in the contract, that Beats is liable for all copyright infringements and any other lawsuits that might happen, relating to all Beats operations and products before the date that Apple officially buys them.

 

One would imagine their lawyers had taken such contingencies into account beforehand.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #25 of 95

fantastic, can this trash headphone company be even more of a joke

post #26 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post
 

Hardly speakers/headphones/subwoofers are premium if you can find it at Best Buy

Perhaps your ears are better at picking up variations in deep bass sounds than mine, but I find it extremely difficult to tell apart a (decent) $400 v. $4000 subwoofer.

post #27 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by boredumb View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masteric View Post

Beats has been around for how long? They wait until Apple is in the process of buying Beats to sue?

The curious thing is that Bose didn't wait until the deal was done, if you wanted to assume the deeper-pockets rationale.

Perhaps it's that Bose wants to scotch that deal and interpose themselves in a partnership with Apple?

 

The acquisition will be closed before this is settled. Bose will get in those deep pockets sooner or later.

post #28 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

 

Apple needs to have some kind of clause in the contract, that Beats is liable for all copyright infringements and any other lawsuits that might happen, relating to all Beats operations and products before the date that Apple officially buys them.

Wow, I wonder if they thought of that.... :rolleyes:

post #29 of 95
Yet another reason not to buy Bose junk. Yes, I said junk. It's overpriced junk.
post #30 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post
 

 

Bose is already in another lawsuit directly with Apple. They love those deep pockets.

 

If they acquired their patent rights in a fair and legal manner, they shouldn't defend their intellectual property rights? Those protections help Apple but sometimes they hurt Apple.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #31 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post
 

Wow, I wonder if they thought of that.... :rolleyes:

 

I'm sure that Apple has a huge team of expensive lawyers representing them, so I would certainly hope so, but in my opinion, the verdict is still out as to whether this was a good buy or not, and I'm not just talking about the economics.

post #32 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

Neither Bose or Beats are premium.
Hardly speakers/headphones/subwoofers are premium if you can find it at Best Buy

I'm hardly the audiophile, but that's oversimplification.

The average non-audiophile, probably is fine with 10$ earbuds, and the stock-speakers that come built into their ipad/iphone/imac. People like me will spend the extra 300$ or so and build a full surround system for their most-used form of entertainment (eg TV or Computer) and will not bother with anything expensive for any other device. Audiophiles buy the expensive (and goofy looking) "surround sound" headphones to use with their Xbox, not iPads/iPhones. But the same Audiophiles have all their tracks stored as lossless, so they bought the 64GB model of the device, but store less music than someone with a 16GB running AAC tracks.

It's basically a diminishing returns thing. The models of things you get at BestBuy, are marked up 70% or so, because they know if they mark it up higher than Amazon, people will just buy it from Amazon. Meanwhile there will be more selection online but the difference between the entry level and top of the line BOSE or BEATSbyDRDRE Headphones or speakers will probably not be significant.

I personally wouldn't buy any headphones because I use the same earbuds on my Mac/PC that I use on my iPad. I have everything rigged up so I don't have to constantly switch the headphones, rather all the HDMI stuff goes to one screen, and that screen loops back through to the PC's onboard audio so I have a volume control. When I leave the house for more than a day, I take those earbuds with me. Best 30$ I ever spent on my trip through Chicago.
post #33 of 95

I'm tired of every article about Beats/Apple devolving immediately into a bash-fest about the quality of the headphones.

Folks, these were designed for a specific customer... techno/hip-hop fans who want the bass to rattle their bodies, and who are listening to music that doesn't have much harmonic complexity.

In short, if you're an audiophile, THEY WEREN'T DESIGNED FOR YOU!

Get over it and buy another brand.

If/when these become the flagship headphones for Apple, I'm sure there will be a broadening of their sonic footprint. Ain't exactly rocket science for a company with Apple's resources.

 

But I still think the deal was about the music service. I just subscribed after the trial period, and I'm really impressed with the catalog and the algorithms.

 

We'll see.

post #34 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post
update: I did a quick search using the USPTO, searching for "Beats Electronics" as the assignee and searching for "suppression", "cancellation", or "reduction" and nothing came up. Just searching for Beats Electronics found 23 patents. They do have one dealing with vibration confinement. I did a search of BeatsbyDre.com and found 36 hits for cancellation. That's where I found reduction listed. I'm not a lawyer but if they actually use the words noise cancellation or technology similar to Bose, then they could really be in trouble. I doubt Bose would want to license this technology to Beats.

 

There is a downside for Bose as well, given that they are used to suing underfunded independent shops that don't have the resources to research prior art. Noise cancellation is a relatively straight-forward concept, and has been taught in physics classes and used for decades in numerous applications -- well before Bose entered the consumer headphone market.

 

Beats is a material threat to Bose because in only a few years, they've taken over the higher priced headphone market that Bose used to lead in revenue share. Bose is now trying to kneecap their most formidable competitor and take the competing headphone business down several notches.

 

But, I can't recall Bose ever suing a large company. And even without Apple, Beats has more than enough resources to try and find enough evidence to invalidate some of Bose's patents. Should be interesting to see if Bose is just looking for a payout, or if they are a true believer that will protect their purported intellectual property to the bitter end.

post #35 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
 

But, I can't recall Bose ever suing a large company. 

 

Bose has sued plenty of companies before and even the media.

 

Bose has sued Consumer reports, Motorola, Harman International Industries (JBL and Infinity systems) and many more.

post #36 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post
 

Perhaps your ears are better at picking up variations in deep bass sounds than mine, but I find it extremely difficult to tell apart a (decent) $400 v. $4000 subwoofer.

It will often come down to how large a room you want to fill, how deep you want to go, and whether you want that room filled using a larger box or a smaller box (small AND powerful subwoofers can be very expensive because they require more powerful amplification and better engineered drivers to move the same amount of air).

post #37 of 95
If the Beats headphones are using some tech that is in breach of the patents then Apple should use some other method that doesn't infringe when the beats sale is finalised. That would make Boses claims historical.

Jimmy n Dre have got plenty of cash to fight the lawsuit and pay any reparations. :-)
My $0.02c
post #38 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masteric View Post

Beats has been around for how long? They wait until Apple is in the process of buying Beats to sue?

Bose has been around since 1964, I think they know a thing or two about audio, especially something as fundamental as noise cancellation. 

 

However, this technology is so ubiquitous that it's almost like the wheels on a car. We'll see how it proceeds. 

post #39 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

 

Bose has sued plenty of companies before and even the media.

 

Bose has sued Consumer reports, Motorola, Harman International Industries (JBL and Infinity systems) and many more.

The Consumer Reports suit was just harassment to try and force more positive coverage. Unfortunately, it worked, as CR made special accommodations for Bose in their speaker testing, which not surprisingly boosted their ratings considerably.

 

Didn't know about Motorola and Harman. I guess Bose now feels confident enough to take on the big boys, rather than just suing two-man shops that dare to use a century-old wave guide design for their speakers.

post #40 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
 

Didn't know about Motorola and Harman. I guess Bose now feels confident enough to take on the big boys, rather than just suing two-man shops that dare to use a century-old wave guide design for their speakers.

 

If you're interested in Bose lawsuits, they're listed on the Wiki page for Bose. There are quite a few lawsuits that they have been involved in.


Edited by Apple ][ - 7/25/14 at 1:13pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Bose files lawsuit against Apple's Beats over noise canceling tech