Apple has countersued stereo headphone inventor and manufacturer Koss over a patent lawsuit recently filed in Waco, Texas that accuses Apple and several other companies of violating patents Koss holds relating to wireless headphone technology.
Koss Corporation, who invented the first high fidelity “stereophones” has filed a five-count patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. It’s no secret that Apple is about to launch over ear headphones and Apple’s success is going to be bad news for Koss. With that said, Koss states that “Apple and others are reaping enormous benefits due to John C. Koss’s vision, and Koss Corporation’s commitment to that vision, for more than six decades.” After four meetings with Apple and making it clear that their audio products were without a doubt infringing on Koss patents, it was clear that Apple wasn’t going to admit infringement.
Koss says it pioneered the wireless technology related to the five patents. Four of the patents describe wireless earphones that involve a transceiver circuit, enabling a device to stream audio from a digital audio player, computer, or wireless network.
Apple’s filing, registered with the U.S. District Court for Northern California on August 8, claims Koss’s allegations are “baseless.” It also alleges that the lawsuit also breaks a written confidentiality agreement that Koss demanded and Apple ultimately agreed to in 2017.
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 says Koss has violated the agreement, thereby rendering Koss’ lawsuit invalid. 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.
Other companies targeted in the Koss lawsuit include Bose, JLab, Plantronics, and Skullcandy, all of which allegedly violate Koss patents related to in-ear wireless headphones technology.