According to inventor of stereo headphones, Apple infringed five patents

Koss, the American company that created the very first high-fidelity stereo headset, sues Apple, accusing the AirPods maker of infringing five patents on wireless headphones. The claim is being made against both the AirPods and Beats wireless headphones.

Much of the court filing reads like an extended announcement for the company's accomplishments, and specific claims suggest the company is making a rather ambitious game ...

The trial, spotted by Obviously Apple, includes a long section titled "Koss's Legacy of Audio Innovation", from 1958 onwards.

In 1958, John C. Koss invented the world's first SP / 3 stereo as part of a “private listening system” that would allow the wearer to listen to a phonograph without disturbing others nearby.

The SP / 3 stereo provided, for the first time, high-quality stereo headphones that came close to the sounds of a concert hall.

John C. Koss demonstrated the SP / 3 stereophone on an audio show in Wisconsin in 1958. Originally designed to demonstrate the high fidelity stereo sound provided by a portable phonograph, these revolutionary SP / 3 stereophones became the hit of the show.

The SP / 3 stereophone has since been listed in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, with John C. Koss delivering the SP / 3 for embedding with an explanation of the history of the SP / 3 in 1972.

Koss goes on to say that he invented wireless headphones in general, and true wireless in-ear headphones in particular.

Koss developed prototypes of in-ear headphones that built on his chip development efforts, with working prototypes from the mid-2000s looking a lot like well-known consumer products flooding the market a decade and a half later. .

The company also claims to have "developed (although ultimately did not market) a smart speaker" that included voice control of devices such as lights.

Apple, he says, has made a "late foray into wireless headphones."

The first of five specific claims appears to argue that Apple has infringed a Koss patent on the underlying technology behind any wireless headphones.

The '025 patent generally describes wireless headphones which include a transceiver circuit for receiving audio streaming from a data source, such as a digital audio player or computer, over a wireless network (...)

The accused headphones have no substantial use without infringement.

Additionally, he says Apple was aware of Koss' patents and met several times to discuss them, before deciding not to license the company's technology.

Koss claims an unspecified amount "which compensates him for such an offense, which by law cannot be less than a reasonable royalty, as well as interest and costs."

The case could be interesting. Koss is not a patent troll (a company that purchases other people's patents with the specific intention of using them to make infringement claims): the company invented the technology itself and is a recognized pioneer. in the field, from those very first stereo headphones. From. It remains a respected audio company today.

However, it is a fundamental principle of patent law that you can only patent the "how" rather than the "what", so it would seem overkill to claim that any wireless headset infringes its patents. It's also likely that Koss picked Apple, rather than another headphone maker, as a high-profile target with deep pockets, so one could argue that the company is acting more like a troll.

You can read the full complaint here.

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