Koss sues Apple over wireless headphone patents

Koss, the U.S. company that essentially launched stereo headphones in 1958 with its invention of the Stereophone, is suing Apple over its sales of wireless stereo headphones.

According to Koss’ claim, Apple allegedly violated five of Koss’ patents, all of which relate to the use of wireless technology to create wireless stereo headphones.

Koss sues Apple over wireless headphone patents. Image: AirPods Pro bring the magic of AirPods to an all-new lightweight, in-ear design.
Apple AirPods Pro

Simon Cohen for Digital Trends:

Koss is asking the courts to award damages based on Apple’s alleged liability to Koss in “an amount that compensates it for such infringement, which by law cannot be less than a reasonable royalty, together with interest and costs.”

Given that Apple owns Beats, one of the most popular brands of wireless headphones, as well as being the maker of AirPods and AirPods Pro, two of the most popular models of true wireless earbuds, the claimed royalties that Koss is seeking would be substantial.

Despite its reputation as one of the earliest innovators, and its broad product line of headphone models, including some that are wireless, Koss has failed to capture much of the current conversation around personal audio… Perhaps most critically when comparing Koss to Apple, Koss has yet to sell a model of true wireless earbuds, the newest and hottest segment of the personal audio space.

MacDailyNews Take: Koss executives, “How the heck can we make money?” Koss lawyer, “Hold my beer.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

26 Comments

  1. What A Joke.. I haven’t heard from Koss in a couple decades, they failed to innovate, another Kodak, and so now their only resort is to sue Apple for its innovation and success? Throw it out Judge just like all the other patent extortion cases!

      1. As someone who holds several patents in multiple fields (and someone who has done both public and U.S. Classified patents), I do know how patents work.

        Apple gets patents on its wireless systems including its AirPods and AirPods Pro. A significant part of the process is for both Apple and the patent examiner to define “prior art”. If the patent examiner (which for international organization often pulls in examiners from non U.S. organizations too — and the non U.S. examiners can be brutal as I know from personal experience) did not deem Koss’s patents as prior art then Koss really does not have a viable case. If either Apple or the patent examiner listed Koss as prior art and explained in the prosecution of the patent application that Apple’s invention superseded Koss’ patents (i.e., often referred to as the prior art being “deficient” in some way which the subsequent patent corrects) then, again, Koss really does not have a case.

        Koss is likely looking for an out of court settlement. They are likely hoping Apple will toss them several million dollars out of Apple’s huge cash horde, and Koss will go away.

        Patent battles, as we saw in the Samsung fiasco, can be extremely costly for a company to pursue and they can take many years before all the appeals are done. I doubt Koss really wants to get into a protracted legal battle with Apple. They almost assuredly just want Apple to pay them to go away.

        1. Well then you certainly understand the leverage of having a patent and all the rights and privileges it entails.

          Apples options are to prove non-infringement, or to invalidate Koss’ patent. Both expensive endeavors.

          1. Do you have reading comprehension issues? It was already explained to you that part of the patent process is evaluating prior art. Apple could not have received a patent if prior art was discovered. In addition the issue of whether Apple’s invention supersedes a prior patent is looked at before any new patent is granted. The fact that Apple was given patents means these issues have already been taken into account and it is a near certainty that Koss has no case.

        2. PS-

          How do you know if the prior art is deficient?

          Digital Trends reports five patents in question. Did you with your vast experience review them in context with any Apple AirPod patents to determine the applicability or deficiency? I know I did’t, but I’m not taking a position between Koss and Apple either.

          It could well be that the Koss patents are weak, but how are you so sure? And if they are strong enough to illicit a settlement, they have value.

          My position was to rebut the ludicrous comment by macawesome88.

          You surely know that patents are valid upon issue. They can be challenged and invalidated, but are presumed valid until invalidated.

          There is also no law whatsoever that requires a patent holder to commercialize any invention.

      2. I am educated and don’t start getting personal.. and I don’t give a f*** how patents work.. Koss has been a nobody for decades and suddenly on 2020 they want a piece of the pie.. I Haven’t seen one model of their headphones on any site anywhere including Amazon.. they might have some on there.. but they ain’t on the first two or three pages of Headphone models.. Koss headphones were never of Audiophile quality even in the 1980s… when i was using AKGs.

        1. You didn’t look far enough or at all. To make things easier for you here’s a link to their website.

          https://www.koss.com/

          Look I’m not taking sides in US patent law as my speciality is Australian labour law and labour market economics so I know that’s it’s useless pontificating in areas outside of my expertise until there are proceedings that can be analysed and that hasn’t yet taken place.

          So macawesome88 I respectively suggest you take a step back and stop being a know it all because it’s obvious that in this case there is a lot more to know.

          DECLARATION: I own Koss earphones, Apple earphones, Beyerdynamic earphones and Tannoy bluetooth earphones. My over ear phones are audio-technica. Now I could go on about my personal choices but that would just be an opinion. Do you get my drift?

  2. Former treasurer embezzled like $35 million dollars! Family stopped paying proper attention to business back in early 80’s – I use to be an employee and stockholder. Totally blew potential — now looking for easy money.

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