WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) - Audio equipment retailer Bose Corporation is suing the maker of the popular Beats by Dre headphones in federal court, alleging the California-based Beats is infringing on its patented technology for noise-cancelling headphones.
Bose filed its 22-page complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware July 25.
The named defendants are Beats Electronics LLC and Beats Electronics International Limited.
In May, Apple Inc. announced it was acquiring Beats Electronics, along with Beats Music, for $3 billion. The company, headquartered in Culver City, Calif., was co-founded by rapper and hip hop producer Dr. Dre and Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine.
According to its court filing, Bose also has filed a complaint over Beats’ headphone technology with the U.S. International Trade Commission. An independent federal agency, the ITC directs actions against unfair trade practices, including subsidies, dumping, patent, trademark and copyright infringement.
Bose contends Beats does not have a license or permission to use its patented technology -- in particular, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,717,537; 8,073,150; 8,073,151; 8,054,992; and 8,345,888. The patents, among others, cover Bose’s QuietComfort20 headphones, its newest noise-cancelling model.
“The accused products are designed to use the infringing noise-cancelling functionality when operated by an end user,” lawyers for Bose wrote in the complaint. “Beats has designed the infringing noise-cancelling functionality to be used automatically when a user is listening to music, and Beats instructs users on how to implement noise-cancelling functionality when a user only desires noise reduction.”
When used to listen to music, the Beats Studio and Studio Wireless use the products’ noise cancellation to “automatically strike the perfect blend between your music and the world outside,” the complaint states.
The accused products also can be used for noise cancellation when no music is played, a feature that Beats also advertises, Bose noted in its complaint.
“Thus, Beats specifically encourages users to use the infringing functionality,” Bose’s lawyers wrote. “Beats advertises no method to turn off features that cause end users to directly infringe.”
Bose is asking the court to enter judgment in its favor; equitable relief including but not limited to an injunction that enjoins Beats from continued infringement of the patents; an accounting of all infringing sales; and a damages award “sufficient” to compensate Bose for Beats’ infringement.
Beats could not immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit.
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