Apple assigned patent for Beats Mixr headphone design

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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a headphone design patent originally assigned to Beats Electronics, the audio hardware maker Apple purchased for $3 billion in 2014.

Officially titled "Audio listening system," Apple's new patent reassignment covers the Beats Mixr over-ear headphone design.

As seen in the drawings above, Mixr is designed for DJs who need to hear both turn table and loudspeaker output. A unique design lets users rotate one driver up and behind their ear for mixing duties, both ear cups down for isolated sound or both up for storage.

Each ear cup is attached to a loop structure that affixes to notched posts on the headband. The posts' internal shape interacts with the ear cup loops to provide friction for sizing and rotation stops at 90 degrees and 180 degrees. A single cord runs from one driver to another through the headband, offering ample slack for ear cup rotation.

Ironically, the patent is credited to ex-Apple design chief Robert Brunner, whose former firm Pentagram first partnered with Beats in 2006 to create a line of headphones marketed largely on its design merits. Brunner subsequently formed another company called Ammunition Group, which continued work on Beats over-the-ear headphones, earphones and speakers.

Following its $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music, Apple dropped Ammunition, presumably handing over future product design work to an internal team led by SVP of Design Jony Ive.

Along with Brunner, Apple's reassigned design patent credits Gregoire Vandenbussche and Chris Fruhauf as inventors.