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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple has settled an AirPods-related patent infringement lawsuit with audio manufacturer Koss, according to a court filing submitted on Saturday that was highlighted by Reuters. Koss had accused Apple of infringing on its wireless headphone technology patents with AirPods and Beats products.


Koss said that AirPods and Beats wireless headphones violated a handful of patents related to wireless headphone technology, which Koss claims to have pioneered. When Koss first filed the lawsuit in 2020 the company said that Apple was aware of its patents and that they met on several occasions to discuss using them.

Apple ultimately opted not to license any Koss technology, leading Koss to sue and demand an unspecified amount of damages for the alleged infringement. After Koss levied a lawsuit at Apple, Apple countersued and said that the allegations were "baseless," the patents were invalid, and that the lawsuit itself broke a 2017 confidentiality agreement that said Koss would bring no litigation against Apple.

Apple and Koss were set to go to trial today, but the two companies on Saturday said they had resolved the allegations that Apple infringed on Koss' wireless audio patents. As a result, the case was dismissed.

There are no details on the settlement at this time, but the filing indicates that "all matters in controversy" have been resolved. Koss has also sued other headphone brands that include Bose and Skullcandy, and those lawsuits are still pending.

Article Link: Apple Settles AirPods Patent Dispute With Koss to Avoid Trial


macrumors G3
Nov 9, 2015
Silicon Valley, CA


macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
An all to familiar thing with Apple.

Apple discusses using another company's patent in a new product, but has them sign a no-lawsuit agreement under the guise of calling it a "confidentiality agreement".
Then Apple uses the patents anyway, making the all too familiar "the patents are invalid so we're not paying" claim.
Then countersues when the patent holder says "I think not" and sues Apple for infringement.
Then settles once they realize the patents are in fact valid, and Apple could be on the hook for more if a jury decides and awards triple damages for willful infringement plus attorney's fees to Koss.


macrumors G4
Aug 17, 2007
Seattle, WA
Wow, this thread in 8 replies. I guess Apple can do whatever they want because they are bigger than those suing them.

And yet Apple settled so they clearly cannot "do whatever they want".

The minimal reporting in so many of these cases (be it poor journalism or everything locked under an NDA by the courts) makes it difficult to determine what role each party played to bring the issue to a head and in a court, but I know it is just easier to #blameApple because...Apple.


macrumors G4
Aug 17, 2007
Seattle, WA
When you're worth a trillion, and the value of your wearables outweighs an entire rival company by large ratio, you pretty much can.

The Eastern District of Texas court system, along with the European Union parliament, would disagree with that. ;)

Seriously, I get what you are saying in that the deck is stacked in Apple's favor and eventually the cost of their legal team working on the case outweighs just paying off the defendant to make them go away, but that does not automatically mean the defendant's case always has full merit and Apple is always fully in the wrong, which so often seems to be the opinion of many in these cases.


macrumors G4
Aug 17, 2007
Seattle, WA
The most garbage headphones I ever used were Koss. I find it mind blowing that they actually owned patents Apple is using!

Apple developed their own "tap to control a function" (which they may or may not have patented, themselves) rather than use Koss'.

Koss felt Apple's process was an infringement on their own "tap to control a function" as used on the Koss Strive Tap (see the post by @Realityck up-thread).


macrumors G4
Aug 17, 2007
Seattle, WA
How many times have we seen Apple use this strategy?

Use tech without paying for patents. Wait to see if anyone notices and if you get sued, deal with it then.

Which is why it would be nice to know the details.

We know Koss and Apple discussed Koss' patent, so Apple was clearly aware of it. So it was certainly not a case of "wait to see if anyone notices". Koss even agreed to not sue Apple over the patent, which implies some form of money changed hands since I don't see Koss going "oh well, you're Apple so we'll just kick the dirt with an 'aw, shucks' and walk away". :D

How much did Koss want? One of the issues with Qualcomm's patenting is that they not only charge a base fee, they also charge a percentage of the price of the entire phone. Was Koss asking for a couple dollars per Air Pod? Or were they asking for tens or even scores of dollars per Air Pod? If the latter was the case and Apple had to raise the MSRP by $20-50 to each Air Pod to cover the demanded price from Koss, I am not surprised Apple would prefer to try and invalidate the patent in court to keep their target price.

And yes, it is possible Apple are just arrogant pricks and would rather spend millions in legal fees to fight every patent rather than thousands to license them. But that seems counter-productive when they patent so much of their own stuff and under Steve were willing to go to the wall to defend them against infringment.
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macrumors 601
Jan 6, 2004
Koss Pro/4AA were the very first headphones I yearned for (Circa 1970). I wonder who owns the patent/trademark/copyright to "Headphone"? It's not a "phone" but it is worn on the head.
First headphone was used by telephone operators. They wore them around their head so their hands were free to operate the switchboard. That's how we have the headphone of today.

It's like someone saying hamburgers aren't made out of ham (pork) but beef.
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macrumors newbie
Nov 6, 2008
Nathaniel Baldwin is recognized as building the earliest two earcup model (mono) 'Radio Head-Set' for the US Navy.
Baldwin’s production was confined to runs of 10 head-sets at a time as he was producing them in his kitchen. On top of these production limitations, the young engineer and inventor refused to patent his design, believing that the innovation involved was too small to warrant it. This led to many other successful copies and contributed to Baldwin’s financial ruin.
John C. Koss - pioneered the first stereo version in the late 50s, including plug standardization.

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