Apple's Beats sues Steven Lamar for claiming 'cofounder' status to sell new headphones
In a recent court filing, Apple-owned Beats brought suit against Steven Lamar for false advertisements and unfair competition after the audio equipment entrepreneur allegedly misreported his affiliation with the Beats brand in order to boost a new audio enterprise.
According to a court filing, Lamar is being sued for posting misleading comments on the website for his current audio company ROAM, saying that he is a "Beats Electronics Co-Founder" and "co-founder of Beats by Dr. Dre." The complaint was lodged with the Northern California District Court last Friday, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
In the document, Lamar is accused of riding on the coattails of Beats' success by calling himself a cofounder of the company, alongside Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Mentions of Beats cofounder status appeared on Lamar's social media accounts, as well as his new audio startup's website. The new firm, ROAM Audio, is marketing its first pair of headphones with the high-end ROAM Ropes earbud line.
The lawsuit is just the latest in a string of court actions surrounding the startup of Beats, which has thus far only served to further confuse matters.
Lamar contends that he was first to think of a starting a new headphone brand backed up by cutting edge technology and promotion from a prominent artist. In 2006, Lamar supposedly met with Insterscope Geffen A&M Record's Jimmy Iovine, who suggested Dr. Dre for the job. Jibe, Lamar's audio company at the time, looked to design studio Pentagram to create a fashion-forward headphone.
Pentagram partner Robert Brunner — who later started the firm Ammunition and continued work on Beats designs until Apple's acquisition — was previously Apple's Director of Industrial Design and is well known for having hired on current SVP of Design Jony Ive.
"He does not have — nor has he ever had — any ownership interest in the company," the filing says of Lamar. "Moreover, Jibe Audio was not responsible for the 'concept, design, manufacturing and distribution' of Beats' headphones."
Using connections within Apple, Iovine introduced Lamar's headphone to Apple retail vice president Jerry McDougal, who subsequently contacted Don Inmon, who was in charge of Apple Store product placement. At rollout, consumer audio giant Monster initially distributed the Beats brand.
The partnership failed later that year, resulting in multiple lawsuits over rights to the profitable Beats headphone brand. Lamar ultimately retained a 4 percent royalty on sales of certain headphones and filed a counter suit earlier this year against all involved parties, claiming breach of contract.
In August, Apple finalized the $3 billion purchase of Beats' hardware and software divisions, an acquisition that included bringing Iovine and Dr. Dre on as new hires.