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Bose Sues New Apple Acquisition Beats Over Patent Violations 162

Posted by timothy
from the stick-it-in-your-ear dept.
Bose has taken issue with some of the technology embodied in products in Apple's newly acquired Beats line of headphones. As Ars Technica reports, Bose is suing Apple, claiming that the Beats products violate five Bose patents, covering noise cancellation and signal processing Although Bose never mentions Apple in the 22-page complaint, the acquisition price of the private company may have played a part in spurring Bose to sue. The suit doesn't include a specific damage demand. Bose has also filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission against Beats over the same infringement claims. That means the patent lawsuit filed in federal court will be stayed while the ITC case gets resolved first.
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Bose Sues New Apple Acquisition Beats Over Patent Violations

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  • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Sunday July 27, 2014 @08:02AM (#47542199) Homepage

    That doesn't have anything to do with the lawsuit. Bose's early patents on noise reduction had a fairly wide scope to them, trying to own the entire territory of reducing aircraft noise independently of the signal. They might even have been able to claim some sort of domain over anyone who plays headphones without music; I wasn't following patent silliness back then. But those products have been shipping since 1989, so any really fundamental patent in that area expired years ago.

    What Bose did then was either file or acquire a series of patents on the obvious ways to build digital circuits for such noise reduction. You can't build any digital noise reduction system without tripping over at least one of them. In the tech industry, there are all these "on a computer!" patents people like to complain about. In audio, their version of that tactic is to patent some math in the form of a "Digital Signal Processing System". The first one is really blatant in that regard. Basically anyone who builds a digital circuit with things like a FIR [wikipedia.org] filter and applies it to audio noise reduction can expect a patent infringement. And Bose didn't even develop that one; they bought the patent [yahoo.com] specifically for the sort of extortion they're doing here, in the usual way Bose sues companies frivolously [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:Typical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday July 27, 2014 @10:17AM (#47542777) Homepage Journal

    To be fair, they are a speaker company, and they were started to be a speaker company. The fact that they do a bunch of other stuff doesn't really change that. I've had some of their speakers (601 Series II [bose.com]) and they just didn't sound good enough to justify the space they take up, although they actually could sound pretty good in a crappy room; up close they even sounded really crisp, whether they actually were or not. (The whole point was that they weren't, though.) You have got to be impressed by the way Bose can make a bunch of shitty drivers sound pretty decent for most kinds of music. Not impressed enough to buy them, but I got them for free. On that basis they were pretty fantastic.

    My A8 also has Bose sound, and it doesn't exactly bowl me over either. Besides the crackling volume knob and the failed tape deck, it just doesn't really sound that amazing. When you get it nice and loud, it kind of goes to pieces. Since it's an extra-fancy Bose head unit (for 1997, mind you) and the changer uses a unique protocol, the only thing I can really replace it with is the same exact thing. There are kits to do otherwise, but then you really need to get into complete speaker wiring replacement.

    Bose might do a lot more than this, and there might be a whole lot of solid engineering behind what they do, but pretty much everyone who doesn't know them for making undersized all-in-one systems with funky design (Bose "Wave", indeed, harrumph) knows them for making really expensive home speakers, or automotive audio systems which are often considerably expensive options which are (in terms of quality) inferior to getting the same sort of thing installed in the aftermarket.

    tl;dr: Bose is a speaker company which refuses to publish typical test data even after they collect it, as well as a company which does other things — most of which are closely related to speakers.

  • Re:Typical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by m00sh (2538182) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @11:58AM (#47543429)

    Maybe, but as a guy who writes DSP software for a living, I took a look at that first patent and there's nothing original or creative about it that could possibly justify a patent -- and Bose must have known that when they filed it. I bet the USPTO clerk didn't have a fucking clue about DSP and was just impressed by fancy words. "Minimizing latency" my ass.

    Modern patents are completely different than what people think patents are.

    They are not necessarily clever inventions or designs anymore. They are just a way of laying stake to a field or method of doing things.

    As an example, people think a better mouse trap would be what you'd file a patent for. No, actually, a company would file a patent for method of eliminating rodents. This would cover all forms of mouse traps that could ever be designed.

    A few years ago, I thought I could learn how things are done by reading patents in a hardware/software field. All the patents were overly general, without any useful information and filled with language that only lawyers would use. On the other hand, I couldn't really design anything without "violating" patents because all the patents were so general that it could covered most general ideas that could be used. In fact, before I had read the patents I had some designs and those designs violated patents.

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