Koss suing Apple over basic concept of wireless connection to headphones and speakers
Koss is suing Apple over the concept of wirelessly connecting to headphones or speakers, and is alleging that nearly all of Apple's current product lineup is in infringement of Koss-held patents.
The suit was filed on July 22 in the U.S. district court in Waco, Texas. The 34-page lawsuit includes an 11-page section titled "Koss's Legacy of Audio Innovation," in which they detail the company's 67-year history. Within this section, they highlight various engineering achievements, products created, and company benchmarks.
Unlike many of the patent lawsuits Apple faces, Koss isn't a known patent troll, but rather a company that manufactures headphones, earbuds, and other audio accessories.
In the suit, Koss is leveraging several of its patents, including U.S. Patent numbers. 10,206,025 ('025), 10,469,934 ('934), 10,491,982 ('982), and 10,506,325 ('325.) These four patents generally describe wireless earphones that involve a transceiver circuit, enabling the device to stream audio from a digital audio player, computer, or wireless network. Koss argues that by selling AirPods, AirPods Pro, and wireless Beats by Dre products, Apple has damaged Koss irreparably by violating all four patents in part, or in whole.
It also suggests that Apple became aware of the various infringements in 2019, but willfully ignored them and continues to do so after Koss contacted them.
Koss also claims that U.S. patent 10,298,451, or "'451" for short, is also being violated. Patent '451 discusses configuring wireless devices to work on a wireless network. Again, Koss alleges that Apple is violating this by simply selling products, though this time, they mention the HomePod and Apple Watch.
The patents don't detail any specific method of connectivity. Rather, it discussed the general concept of wireless headphones and speakers in the vaguest and widest-reaching of terms. Koss isn't specifying any specific method of networking or connectivity, but is alleging that any method infringes upon the patents.
The patents in question were all granted throughout 2019. Apple first released the iPhone Bluetooth Headset in 2007, and AirPods first hit the market in 2016, nearly three years before Koss' received any of its patents.
In June, Apple filed a lawsuit that sought to invalidate intellectual property at the center of a patent infringement complaint by a patent troll, lodged five years ago. While Koss is very clearly not a patent troll, and produces its own products based on its patents, Apple is likely to take the same approach given that wireless Apple audio products have been shipping for over a decade.
Koss is requesting that, should the court find Apple guilty, Apple should pay punitive and compensatory damages three times the amount found by the jury or assessed by the Court because of willful infringement.