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Apple Countersues US Stereo Headphone Inventor Koss in Response to Patent Lawsuit

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple is countersuing Stereophone inventor and audio manufacturer Koss over a patent lawsuit it recently filed in Waco, Texas, accusing Apple and several audio companies of violating patents relating to its wireless headphone technology.


In the Koss lawsuit, originally spotted by Patently Apple, AirPods and Beats wireless headphones are accused of violating five patents relating to wireless headphone technology that Koss essentially says it pioneered in the industry. The four patents describe wireless earphones that involve a transceiver circuit, enabling a device to stream audio from a digital audio player, computer, or wireless network.

Koss said Apple was aware of these patents and met several times to discuss using them, before deciding not to license any of the company's technology. Koss now wants an unspecified amount in compensation for the alleged infringements, "which by law cannot be less than a reasonable royalty, together with interests and costs."

In Apple's filing registered with the U.S. District Court for the Northern California on August 8, however, it claims Koss' allegations are "baseless." Moreover, it alleges that the lawsuit also breaks a written confidentiality agreement that Koss demanded and Apple ultimately agreed to in 2017.

According to the agreement, neither Apple nor Koss "would use or attempt to use any Communications [between the parties], or the existence thereof, in a litigation or any other administrative or court proceeding for any purpose."
According to the terms of the Confidentiality Agreement, while the agreement was in force, Apple could not advise a Court of Koss' threats to file baseless infringement claims or ask a Court to declare Apple's rights and resolve the legal uncertainty it faced. The Confidentiality Agreement also restricted how Apple could disclose and use the existence and contents of the discussions. But the agreement also protected Apple—Koss was not permitted to later use the fact that Apple had agreed to a discussion with Koss, or the contents of the discussion, against Apple in litigation.

In other words, having enticed Apple to participate in discussions, reveal information, and forego some of its legal options, Koss could not use Apple's participation against it as a "gotcha" to bring claims in a later litigation.
Apple now says this is precisely what Koss has done in bringing the lawsuit, thereby rendering it invalid. In addition to the alleged breach of contract, Apple also submitted documentary evidence that it says proves that it hasn't violated any of the patents cited by Koss in its original litigation.

Apart from Apple, other companies targeted by the Koss lawsuit include Bose, JLab, Plantronics, and Skullcandy, all of which allegedly violate Koss patents related to in-ear wireless headphones technology that is now used widely in the audio market.

Article Link: Apple Countersues US Stereo Headphone Inventor Koss in Response to Patent Lawsuit
 

kobaltz

macrumors newbie
Jul 27, 2010
7
47
Koss was junk back in the 90s and still junk today. I remember installing Koss stereos into cars at Circuit City. The backlighting on these would randomly break after a week. They were used as the attraction. "Get a new CD player for your car for only $75 + installation!!". We had to up sell everyone to the next cheapest stereo of $150 because we knew that they would be back to return the Koss junk.
 

gridlocked

macrumors member
Apr 28, 2019
90
119
RI
Koss was junk back in the 90s and still junk today. I remember installing Koss stereos into cars at Circuit City. The backlighting on these would randomly break after a week. They were used as the attraction. "Get a new CD player for your car for only $75 + installation!!". We had to up sell everyone to the next cheapest stereo of $150 because we knew that they would be back to return the Koss junk.

I doubt they actually made those but Koss, Sennheiser, AKG and a few others pretty much were the headphone market till China started making headphones so that's apples to oranges.
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,582
14,374
In between a rock and a hard place
Koss was junk back in the 90s and still junk today. I remember installing Koss stereos into cars at Circuit City. The backlighting on these would randomly break after a week. They were used as the attraction. "Get a new CD player for your car for only $75 + installation!!". We had to up sell everyone to the next cheapest stereo of $150 because we knew that they would be back to return the Koss junk.
Whether or not their products are junk is irrelevant. The suit is about patents, not the quality of Koss' products.
They are just suing Apple Koss they've nothing better to do. How come they haven't gone after every single other manufacture of wireless headphones, there are thousands of them out there
Sometimes it pays to read the article before commenting. Relying on the headline can lead to missing important information like this from the first sentence:
Apple is countersuing Stereophone inventor and audio manufacturer Koss over a patent lawsuit it recently filed in Waco, Texas, accusing Apple and several audio companies of violating patents relating to its wireless headphone technology.
Expanded upon in the last sentence:
Apart from Apple, other companies targeted by the Koss lawsuit include Bose, JLab, Plantronics, and Skullcandy, all of which allegedly violate Koss patents related to in-ear wireless headphones technology that is now used widely in the audio market.
 

pmgrnvl

macrumors newbie
Aug 21, 2014
10
1
Koss was junk back in the 90s and still junk today. I remember installing Koss stereos into cars at Circuit City. The backlighting on these would randomly break after a week. They were used as the attraction. "Get a new CD player for your car for only $75 + installation!!". We had to up sell everyone to the next cheapest stereo of $150 because we knew that they would be back to return the Koss junk.

That stuff was a Koss licensee; yes, it was junk, but it also wasn't "Koss." Licensees often ruin brands' reputations.

A few years ago I wanted some full-size headphones to use while on longer trips. I didn't want noise-isolating, because I wanted to also be able to use them at home with my stereo. I also didn't want to break the bank, so based on some reviews and my recollections of 1970s Koss, I bought a pair of their Pro 4S headphones. I am a picky listener, but I was blown away; they are basically audiophile-quality headphones for about $150. Clear, clean sound, comfortable, and lifetime warranty.

Based on that experience, I bought some wired earbuds and they, too, sounded great and were comfortable. Earlier this year, I bought their $30 Bluetooth earbuds, which were on sale for $25. While they aren't fancy, and don't have a high-end fit-n-finish, they sound great, connect every time — and stay connected — and have excellent battery life. If they had a fancier finish, Koss could probably sell them for two or three times the price, but they are perfect for my needs while walking or riding a bus (which I admittedly don't do at the moment).

So, while I can't comment on the lawsuit, I can say that I have been very happy the last three Koss purchases I made, and my contacts with the company (say, for extra pads) have always been quick and painless.
 

kobaltz

macrumors newbie
Jul 27, 2010
7
47
Whether or not their products are junk is irrelevant. The suit is about patents, not the quality of Koss' products.

Reading the lawsuit claims from Koss, I'd saw that quality of their product is going to be relevant in Apple's defense and countersuit. That and applicability of the patents to actual technology used. Bluetooth is at most a wireless personal area network, but more-so a wireless direct connection. I like rooting for the underdogs, but Apple is right. Their claims are baseless.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,628
3,785
PHX, AZ.
Reading the lawsuit claims from Koss, I'd saw that quality of their product is going to be relevant in Apple's defense and countersuit. That and applicability of the patents to actual technology used. Bluetooth is at most a wireless personal area network, but more-so a wireless direct connection. I like rooting for the underdogs, but Apple is right. Their claims are baseless.
Quality of the product is moot. It's the underlying patents that matter, not their execution.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,628
3,785
PHX, AZ.
Why is it that my initial opinion of the validity of any patent lawsuit goes down when I hear that it was filed in Texas?
Yeah... Koss is based out of Wisconsin.. Not sure why they wouldn't file in their home state like Apple does.
 
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