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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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  • It amazes me how often news companies fail to understand technological issues: The New York Times authors are would-be novelists. [slashdot.org]

    Was it smart for Apple to buy Beats by Dre [beatsbydre.com]?
  • Bose is worried (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Sunday July 27, 2014 @05:12AM (#47541863) Homepage

    Bose and Beats are both highly brand-focused. Bose targets the more mature quality-seeking crowd, while Beats targets the bass-hungry and fashion-conscious youth. There's some overlap, but generally I'd say their targets kept competition to a minimum, and they've pretty much cornered those targets

    Apple has the best of both worlds being viewed both as high quality and a status symbol. If they start using their monster marketing teams to align peoples' view of Beats with that of Apple, Bose stands a chance of being pushed out of the market by a frightening direct competition. They've got good reason to try to stall the acquisition as much as possible

    • Bose and Beats are both highly brand-focused. Bose targets the more mature quality-seeking crowd, while Beats targets the bass-hungry and fashion-conscious youth. There's some overlap, but generally I'd say their targets kept competition to a minimum, and they've pretty much cornered those targets

      Apple has the best of both worlds being viewed both as high quality and a status symbol. If they start using their monster marketing teams to align peoples' view of Beats with that of Apple, Bose stands a chance of being pushed out of the market by a frightening direct competition. They've got good reason to try to stall the acquisition as much as possible

      Bose also targets youth, although they do a terrible job of it and are getting their ass kicked by Beats.

      And Beats also targets musicians with their "Pro" headphone which is not bass hungry at all and has higher quality than anything Bose has ever shipped. As far as I can tell, Beats Pro are some of the best studio headphones money can buy at the moment. If they weren't so expensive I would probably own a pair.

      • Re:Bose is worried (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2014 @07:23AM (#47542115)

        As far as I can tell, Beats Pro are some of the best studio headphones money can buy at the moment. If they weren't so expensive I would probably own a pair.

        What are you, 19? Perhaps you should open both your eyes and ears and take a look at some companies who have been making cans for a LOT longer than a gansta rapper marketing to the ignorant.

        Companies like Sennheiser, Shure, and Grados Labs have proven that music does not begin and end with bass.

        And it doesn't surprise me that you think these sound good in the studio. The "studio" has managed to hyperbass and overprocess (excite) the living shit out of 99% of pop/rap music today, basically ruining it. Music "mastering" today is defined as turn up the bass and slap on some Autotune for this tone-deaf teeny bopper who can't sing for shit.

        A perfect home for Beats.

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @09:13AM (#47542445)

          As far as I can tell, Beats Pro are some of the best studio headphones money can buy at the moment. If they weren't so expensive I would probably own a pair.

          What are you, 19? Perhaps you should open both your eyes and ears and take a look at some companies who have been making cans for a LOT longer than a gansta rapper marketing to the ignorant.

          He's walkin' - they be hatin'. The Beebs sounds fucking awesome in Beets Pro. And they are unquestionably the best headphones for listening to autotune.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      They have a lot of work to do to convince people that Beats sound good.

      This patent seems to be specifically about noise cancelling, which is the one area Bose is actually good at. Their noise cancelling does seem to be slightly better than the competition, e.g. Sony and Audio Technica. Only slightly though.

    • > Bose targets the more mature ignorant quality-seeking crowd,

      FTFY.

      In what universe does Bose and quality even go together?!?!? They are a complete over-priced under-quality joke by many audiophiles. They are nowhere in the top ten at Hi-Fi http://www.head-fi.org/f/113/h... [head-fi.org]

      Senn cans are consistently top rated. I.e. http://www.head-fi.org/product... [head-fi.org]

      Maybe if Bose didn't sound like shit and actually listed* their technical specs such THR [wikipedia.org] -- oh wait Bose relies on ignorance and marketing just like Beats.

      * A

      • Well, I never said Bose actually had quality, only that people perceive them as having it. I carefully worded it like that because while I agree with you, it was not the point I was trying to make. I'll stick to my Mad Dogs and DT880s.
      • by Rakarra (112805)

        > Bose targets the more mature ignorant quality-seeking crowd,

        Well. That's the crowd they target. The parent poster didn't say they offer great products, just that that's the group they want to go after. :-)

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      brand focused companies are brand focused because they charge too much for mediocre products. It takes effort to maintain smoke and mirrors and it's easy to blow them away with a few facts.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Bose and Beats are both highly brand-focused. Bose targets the more mature quality-seeking crowd, while Beats targets the bass-hungry and fashion-conscious youth. There's some overlap, but generally I'd say their targets kept competition to a minimum, and they've pretty much cornered those targets

      They're both over-EQ'd POS. Beats are for bass. while "no highs, no lows, must be Bose".

      The only thing is, the markets are different - Beats are for the young "trendy" kids who listen to nothing but bass-heavy musi

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @05:16AM (#47541873)

    Quick, Slashdotters - tell me who to hate!

  • by Chas (5144) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @05:29AM (#47541895) Homepage Journal

    Bose: They have infringed on our patents for crappy sound reproduction!

    Beats/Apple: Crap! We got nothin'! We weren't expecting them to play the "blunt honesty" card!

  • by robbak (775424) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @06:42AM (#47542047) Homepage

    The thing that commenters over at Ars haven't picked up on - this patent is only infringed if the customer wears the headphones without playing music. Noise cancellation with added music - OK, there's prior art for that. Turn the music off - it becomes patentable technology.

    The claim states that Bose is on the hook because their documentation states that you can use the headphones without music for noise cancellation only, which induces their customers to infringe Bose's patents.

    How is that legit? How can not adding music create a patentable technology?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The thing that commenters over at Ars haven't picked up on - this patent is only infringed if the customer wears the headphones without playing music. Noise cancellation with added music - OK, there's prior art for that. Turn the music off - it becomes patentable technology.

      The claim states that Bose is on the hook because their documentation states that you can use the headphones without music for noise cancellation only, which induces their customers to infringe Bose's patents.

      How is that legit? How can not adding music create a patentable technology?

      As a simple analysis, Bose created and patented the noise-cancelling headphone. They made it and marketed that rather directly as noise-cancelling headphones, initially and specifically designed to do one thing.

      Those who have flown commercially anytime in the last fifteen years could not have missed it in airports and skymall, where they marketed the crap out of it.

      Then someone comes along and adds bass boost and a headphone jack to that same exact product. While rather weak, I can easily see how this co

      • As a simple analysis, Bose created and patented the noise-cancelling headphone. They made it and marketed that rather directly as noise-cancelling headphones, initially and specifically designed to do one thing..

        Not really, the concept had been around a while, and pilots had been using them long before the first pair of Bose QCs hit the market. Bose, while he did a lot of research into ANR, popularized them for use outside of the cockpit. IMHO Bose are way overpriced, you can get a set of Audio Technica, or a if you prefer an open ear design, Sennheisers that cancel noise quite well for half the price of the Bose . A Sennheiser BT for about the same price but with BT. Al of them also work as regular headphones wh

    • 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].

      • Extortion? That's bogus, this suit must be legit.. why else would they have waited until just after Apple bought Beats?

  • bad vs bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kuzb (724081) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @07:36AM (#47542139)

    Beats (and by extension, apple) is overpriced, overhyped shit. Bose is overpriced, overhyped shit. I sincerely hope they cost each other millions with this.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So who does sell well priced headphones in your opinion?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Fully agree. For the kind of money one could spend on a pair of bose or apple/beats headphones, you could own FAR superior ones by Shure, Audio Technica, Sony, Focal, Sennheiser and AKGs.

    • by Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @09:17AM (#47542459) Homepage
      That's just unfair, if your Bose(tm) and/or Beats(tm) headphones sound bad, you're probably just using cheap cables. They'll totally sound awesome if you make the necessary investment in Monster(tm) cables for them instead.
    • Re:bad vs bad (Score:4, Informative)

      by strikethree (811449) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @11:35AM (#47543257) Journal

      Beats (and by extension, apple) is overpriced, overhyped shit. Bose is overpriced, overhyped shit.

      I disagree. I have owned both sets of their "high end" noise cancelling headphones. Neither one is shit. Both are definitely over-hyped and overpriced, but they are not shit.

      When you claim something is shit, you are claiming that it does not do what it says it will do. Both pairs of headphones reproduce the sounds that were intended in a reliable manner. That is a measure of quality. Both pairs of headphones provide some level of consistent noise cancellation. That is a measure of quality.

      The Bose are better than the Beats at noise cancellation. The Beats are better than the Bose at convincing you that you are hearing bass, and slightly better at convincing you that you are hearing treble. Both are 3 times more expensive than a pair of Sennheiser (SP?) headphones that I have that reproduce sounds more like the original sound than the Bose or the Beats. Both pairs (Bose/Beats) sound like... I don't know: Cardboard? The only negative to the Sennheisers is that they do not do noise cancellation and they do not have batteries in them so they eat the battery of my phone. But play a FLAC file through them and OMG, they sound like sex compared to Bose or Beats.

      • by dkf (304284)

        play a FLAC file through them and OMG, they sound like sex

        Your audio collection is... not like mine.

        • by McFly777 (23881)

          play a FLAC file through them and OMG, they sound like sex

          Your audio collection is... not like mine.

          Perhaps he is saying that the headphones being described make everything sound like low moaning with a few high screams? Doesn't sound like they are very good to me. I prefer my music to sound like music.

  • A) Why didn't Bose sue Beats BEFORE Apple bought them? That makes this case sound much more about targeting a cash hoard than anything else.
    2) Why didn't Apple buy Bose? Aside from the obvious answer that Apple bought branding instead of technology, Bose surely must have something Apple would want. If not, then the Beats acquisition is only about image which doesn't make much sense given that Apple has been pretty good at creating their own image over the last 10+ years.

  • Who Cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acoustix (123925) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @11:05AM (#47543109) Homepage

    Bose is an over-priced lifestyle product for the middle aged. Beats is an over-priced status symbol for teens. Both groups of people are unaware that products equal specs can be purchased for much less and that superior products can be purchased for the same price.

  • I browsed a few audiophile forums in the past, and it was funny because they NEVER agreed on anything... EXCEPT for one thing... they all agreed that Bose was the worst speaker company ever. A company that sold products based purely on marketing.
  • Dre sold it off just in time for a patent suit to come down the line. Luck or sneakiness?

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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