Bose Corp. filed a lawsuit on Friday that accuses popular headphone maker Beats Electronics of infringing upon several of its patents.
The suit claims that Bose lost sales because Beats—which Apple announced it would acquire for $3 billion in May—used patented noise-cancelling technology in its Studio and Studio Wireless headphone lines.
Beats’ products that allegedly use the technology “can also be used for noise cancellation when no music is played, a feature that Beats also advertises,” the suit states. “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.”
Bose is probably taking advantage of the fact that Beats is now valued at $3 billion. But why didn’t they wait a few months more? Apple doesn’t yet own Beats, and any money that can be obtained in a suit like this would come from Beats, not Apple.
Also, noise-cancelling technology is quite old; I’m surprised that there are patents like this, but these may simply be patents that refine the technology.
I’m reminded of the Grateful Dead’s wall of sound concerts, where sound engineer Bear (Stanley Owsley) discovered that he could cancel out the sound coming from behind the musicians using two microphones. If you watch The Grateful Dead Movie you can see those noise canceling mikes: the singers sing into the top one, and the lower one picks up the sound from behind them to cancel it out. Alas, the technology was in early stages then, and the sound of the vocals from that period isn’t great.