Apple's Beats sues Steven Lamar for claiming 'cofounder' status to sell new headphones

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2015
In a recent court filing, Apple-owned Beats brought suit against Steven Lamar for false advertisements and unfair competition after the audio equipment entrepreneur allegedly misreported his affiliation with the Beats brand in order to boost a new audio enterprise.


ROAM Ropes earbuds.


According to a court filing, Lamar is being sued for posting misleading comments on the website for his current audio company ROAM, saying that he is a "Beats Electronics Co-Founder" and "co-founder of Beats by Dr. Dre." The complaint was lodged with the Northern California District Court last Friday, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

In the document, Lamar is accused of riding on the coattails of Beats' success by calling himself a cofounder of the company, alongside Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Mentions of Beats cofounder status appeared on Lamar's social media accounts, as well as his new audio startup's website. The new firm, ROAM Audio, is marketing its first pair of headphones with the high-end ROAM Ropes earbud line.

The lawsuit is just the latest in a string of court actions surrounding the startup of Beats, which has thus far only served to further confuse matters.

Lamar contends that he was first to think of a starting a new headphone brand backed up by cutting edge technology and promotion from a prominent artist. In 2006, Lamar supposedly met with Insterscope Geffen A&M Record's Jimmy Iovine, who suggested Dr. Dre for the job. Jibe, Lamar's audio company at the time, looked to design studio Pentagram to create a fashion-forward headphone.

Pentagram partner Robert Brunner -- who later started the firm Ammunition and continued work on Beats designs until Apple's acquisition -- was previously Apple's Director of Industrial Design and is well known for having hired on current SVP of Design Jony Ive.

"He does not have -- nor has he ever had -- any ownership interest in the company," the filing says of Lamar. "Moreover, Jibe Audio was not responsible for the 'concept, design, manufacturing and distribution' of Beats' headphones."

Using connections within Apple, Iovine introduced Lamar's headphone to Apple retail vice president Jerry McDougal, who subsequently contacted Don Inmon, who was in charge of Apple Store product placement. At rollout, consumer audio giant Monster initially distributed the Beats brand.

The partnership failed later that year, resulting in multiple lawsuits over rights to the profitable Beats headphone brand. Lamar ultimately retained a 4 percent royalty on sales of certain headphones and filed a counter suit earlier this year against all involved parties, claiming breach of contract.

In August, Apple finalized the $3 billion purchase of Beats' hardware and software divisions, an acquisition that included bringing Iovine and Dr. Dre on as new hires.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    The Beats purchase was worth it (profitable headphones, good streaming service, excellent lifestyle marketing team), but what a mess. Imagine if Apple had been sued by NeXT haters back in the day...
  • Reply 2 of 17
    All this time I thought Lamar made headphones that looked just like cushy powdered sugar coated jelly doughnuts!

    Zone out to your tunes... Get high... Eat your headphones...!
  • Reply 3 of 17
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member

    Well that didn't take long.

  • Reply 4 of 17
    I guess they stopped saying "...whose real name is Andre Young..."
  • Reply 5 of 17
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    man is that story confusing.
  • Reply 6 of 17
    froodfrood Posts: 771member

    So Iovine is the 'suit' or record label executive, Dre was the 'face' or superstar who did little else, and Lamar was the engineering talent that actually knew something about audio and conceived, designed, and built the actual product.   Sue the pants off that imposter Apple.

  • Reply 7 of 17
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Frood View Post

     

    So Iovine is the 'suit' or record label executive, Dre was the 'face' or superstar who did little else, and Lamar was the engineering talent that actually knew something about audio and conceived, designed, and built the actual product.   Sue the pants off that imposter Apple.


     

    Why would you brand Apple as wrong without seeing what the case reveals?

  • Reply 8 of 17

    Boring.....who cares about Lamar or whatever the new headphone company is.   There are always people who will leech off Apple.

  • Reply 9 of 17

    So THIS they sue for false advertisement but the real lies brought by their actual competitors they ignore?!

  • Reply 10 of 17

    "Steven Lamar is the founder of Jibe Audio, LLC, which was responsible for the concept and design of the Beats by Dr. Dre headphone product line. Prior to starting Jibe Audio, Steven was the President of SLS International, Ltd., a small, publicly traded audio technology company. During his brief time at SLS, Mr. Lamar brought SLS from the pink sheets to the American Stock Exchange, launched SLS’s first consumer product in partnership with Quincy Jones and secured product placement agreements for SLS products with Mark Burnett Productions."

     

    Emphasis not mine, that is how it appears on their website.

     

    http://roamwith.com/our-story/

  • Reply 11 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,208moderator
    I guess they stopped saying "...whose real name is Andre Young..."

    He must have got his medical license.
    frood wrote:
    Lamar was the engineering talent that actually knew something about audio and conceived, designed, and built the actual product.

    He says he suggested making the headphones but he didn't design nor build them. He's a hedge fund manager, the type that doesn't want to make or create anything, they just want their cut of the money:

    http://www.crunchbase.com/person/steven-lamar

    Robert Brunner, who was Apple's design guy before Ive and who hired Jony Ive designed the branding and headphones:

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-12/the-designer-behind-beats-bulky-look-gets-ready-to-bow-out

    Monster Cable manufactured them to begin with and then Beats (Dre/Iovine) took it in-house.

    There was an original audio engineer who describes Lamar as having an important role in it but the design was done by Ammunition and manufacturing by Monster and both IP presumably owned by Beats and now Apple, not Jibe Audio:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-19/designer-of-beats-headphones-prototype-discovers-there-s-no-free-lunch.html

    If there's no formal agreement for a royalty then Lamar has no claim to one. He sounds like another greedy hedge fund manager who sees billion dollar deals going on without him and wants in on it. It's so sad, he must just be a millionaire and not a billionaire.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    I still don't get why Apple spent 3 billion on Beats and for what??? I think it would have been much cheaper for Apple to start their own headphone company if that's what they wanted. Maybe Apple needed something to waste a bunch of money on?!?!?
  • Reply 13 of 17
    cm477cm477 Posts: 95member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post





    There was an original audio engineer who describes Lamar as having an important role in it but the design was done by Ammunition and manufacturing by Monster and both IP presumably owned by Beats and now Apple, not Jibe Audio:



    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-19/designer-of-beats-headphones-prototype-discovers-there-s-no-free-lunch.html



    If there's no formal agreement for a royalty then Lamar has no claim to one. He sounds like another greedy hedge fund manager who sees billion dollar deals going on without him and wants in on it. It's so sad, he must just be a millionaire and not a billionaire.

    You don't know Steve. I haven't spoken to him in a few years, but he is not a greedy hedge fund manager of your simplistic myopic stereotype. He has been instrumental in several startups, which I would guess is quite a bit more than anyone here has been involved in. He is not suing anyone. He is the one being sued, presumably because Apple sees his role in the creation of those headphones as a threat to the Apple's romantic version Beats story (and apparently a threat to many Apple-philes here). If Monster and Lee's suit pans out, I guess Iovine and Dre would be the greedy ones who really didn't create anything. But we'll see. 

  • Reply 14 of 17
    cm477 wrote: »
    You don't know Steve. I haven't spoken to him in a few years, but he is not a greedy hedge fund manager of your simplistic myopic stereotype. He has been instrumental in several startups, which I would guess is quite a bit more than anyone here has been involved in. He is not suing anyone. He is the one being sued, presumably because Apple sees his role in the creation of those headphones as a threat to the Apple's romantic version Beats story (and apparently a threat to many Apple-philes here). If Monster and Lee's suit pans out, I guess Iovine and Dre would be the greedy ones who really didn't create anything. But we'll see. 

    "Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan."
  • Reply 15 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,208moderator
    cm477 wrote: »
    Lamar is not suing anyone. He is the one being sued, presumably because Apple sees his role in the creation of those headphones as a threat to the Apple's romantic version Beats story (and apparently a threat to many Apple-philes here). If Monster and Lee's suit pans out, I guess Iovine and Dre would be the greedy ones who really didn't create anything. But we'll see.

    Lamar was suing them:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/05/20/scattershot-legal-blast-from-beats-cofounder-steven-lamar-reveals-apple-is-common-thread-in-firms-history
    http://www.businessinsider.com/early-beats-employee-steven-lamar-sells-his-own-headphones-now-2014-9

    "Lamar was demanding royalties on derivative versions of Beats headphones. Lamar is suing all parties for breach of contract, breach of good faith, denial of contract, while other actions are being taken against Brunner and his new firm Ammunition over alleged interference with standing contracts."
    "Steven Lamar sued the company (Beats), claiming he played a large role in developing the Beats headphones and deserved four percent of royalties on headphone sales."

    Apple sued him after that over his use of the Beats name to promote his own competing line of headphones:

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/9/4/6103201/disgruntled-beats-co-founder-starts-new-audio-company-with-299-earbuds

    Beats issued a statement saying:

    "He does not have — nor has he ever had — any ownership interest in the company," the filing says of Lamar. "Moreover, Jibe Audio was not responsible for the 'concept, design, manufacturing and distribution' of Beats' headphones."

    Lamar seems to be claiming to be a co-founder along the lines of 'that was my idea' but no legal paperwork to back it up. Now that the big money is rolling in, he wants a cut.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    So now there are at least two lawsuits surrounding Beats, yes? Lovely.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,208moderator
    So now there are at least two lawsuits surrounding Beats, yes? Lovely.

    There was also this guy:
    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/techflash/2014/05/mog-founder-sues-beats-music-for-20-million-says.html?page=all

    and the Bose suit, which was settled:
    http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/apples-beats-bose-settle-patent-spat-over-noise-canceling-tech/

    It's not that many considering the huge amount of money involved. They are probably hoping for a lucky break that a few million here and there won't matter.
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