When Apple bought the groovy headphone maker Beats for $3 billion, legions of fanboys in the press rushed to claim that it was the deal of the century.
It seems that Apple might have bought itself a bag of pain after Bose filed a lawsuit that accuses the headphone maker of infringing upon several of its patents.
The suit claims that Bose lost sales because Beats nicked its patented noise-cancelling technology in its Studio and Studio Wireless headphone lines.
To make matters worse, Beats advertises that the technology “can also be used for noise cancellation when no music is played” which is something Bose has a patent on. “Thus, Beats specifically encourages users to use the infringing functionality. Beats advertises no method to turn off features that cause end users to directly infringe.”
Apple appears to have bought a company whose products infringe on five US patents: patent 6,717,537, titled “Method and Apparatus for Minimizing Latency in Digital Signal Processing Systems;” patent 8,073,150, a “Dynamically Configurable ANR Signal Processing Topology;” patent 8,073,151, a “Dynamically Configurable ANR Filter Block Technology;” patent 8,054,992, which specifies a method for high frequency compensating; and patent 8,345,888, which covers “Digital High Frequency Phase Compensation.”
Bose never mentions Apple in the 22-page complaint, and the Tame Apple Press insists that the lawsuit has come about because Jobs’ Mob paid such a high price.
Some magazines have even implied that Bose is being a patent troll saying that this is not the first time Bose has sued a competitor over patents. It sued Able Planet last year over its noise-cancelling headphones, and reached a settlement. In April, Bose sued Monster for selling headphones that infringe a Bose patent related to “fit and retention characteristics” of their in-ear headphones. That case is in its early stages.
Bose has also filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission against Beats over the same infringement claims. That means the patent lawsuit filed in federal court will be stayed while the ITC case gets resolved first.
Either way this is going to get messy for Apple. It already paid what many considered was too much for Beats and it is going to have another expensive court battle to fight.