Apple is being sued over wireless headphone technology

Koss sues Apple for headphone patent infringements
(Image credit: Apple)

Headphone giant Koss has filed a lawsuit against Apple for a number of patent infringements. As reported by Patently Apple, the firm has accused Apple of infringing five of its patents relating to wireless headphones and how they operate.

Koss was founded in 1958 by John Koss, who created the world's first "stereophones" (basically a pair of over-ear headphones). According to documents lodged by Koss, the American firm has met four times with Apple to discuss the accusation, but Apple has yet to admit liability.

The lawsuit hints at future suits to come aimed at other headphone makers too. It reads: "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."

The lawsuit revolves mainly around Koss' Striva range of headphones, "with whole listening ecosystems having been built around the techniques Koss conceived of over a decade ago".

It claims that Koss has suffered as a result of Apple's success in the headphone market, which it says is thanks to innovations made by Koss – "Apple is liable to Koss in an amount that compensates it for such infringement, which by law cannot be less than a reasonable royalty."

The lawsuit compares Koss' long legacy in headphones with Apple's brief but highly successful track record. It says that Koss met with Apple four times over a two-and-a-half-year period. During those meetings, as well as subsequent email exchanges, it "provided Apple with claim charts identifying how Apple infringed certain of Koss’s patents, including each of the Patents-in-Suit".

Apple has made no public comment on the lawsuit. You can read the full complaint for yourself here.

The patents Koss has accused Apple of infringing mostly concern methods of interpreting digital music received wirelessly from a digital music player. There's also one relating to how music streamed from an online service, via a home wireless network, is received.

Apple's current line-up of wireless headphones currently consists of the AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro. It's also rumoured to be launching the Apple AirPods Studio in the near future.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.