California headphone maker Beats hit by mid-sale patent suit

California businesses can reduce risks of infringement claims long before a product is available to the public. You don’t want another business making profits off your company’s patents, so it’s wise to make sure you aren’t poaching off anyone else’s intellectual property. Remaining blissfully unaware of a competitor’s patent won’t help – purposeful or accidental ignorance is not a defense.

A new lawsuit against California-based Beats Electronics LLC by home entertainment retailer Bose Corporation mentions several patent infringement allegations. What you don’t see in reports is a time line for Beats alleged infringement upon Bose technology patents for noise-control headphones. The lawsuit mentions the patents in the new Bose QuietComfort20 headphones were also employed in Beats Studio Wireless and Beats Studio headphones.

Beats is in transition. The company, co-founded by record producer Jimmy Iovine and rap giant Dr. Dre, is in the process of being sold for $3 billion to Apple Inc., a deal Fortune reported would be finalized sometime this fall. The lawsuit was filed just days after Apple announced handsome increases in third-quarter share revenue and sales.

Bose contends it has three dozen standing or pending patents related to headphone noise control. The late July federal complaint includes requests for an injunction to ban Beats from selling some of its headphones and “sufficient” but unspecified damages. A separate complaint was filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission to trigger a Beats investigation.

Cases like this give Los Angeles businesses something to think about when designing intellectual property plans. What do you have to do to make sure you’re not stepping on another company’s patent? Patent research should take place while a product is in the design stage.

An intellectual property attorney can search out and review related patents, particularly your competitors’ patents. When there’s a conflict, a product design is easier and possibly less costly to change than facing the consequences of future litigation.

Source: Legal Newsline Legal Journal, “Bose suing Beats over noise-cancelling headphone technology” Jessica M. Karmasek, Aug. 11, 2014