Doppler Labs’ Here One earphones allow you to listen to music while choosing how much of the world around you that you hear, even going to far as to make distant sounds easier to hear. Bose’s Hearphones, released late last year, offer a very similar set of features. In a lawsuit filed in Bose’s home state of Massachusetts, Doppler Labs is alleging that this is more than a coincidence.
The filing alleges that Bose made attempts to gain early access to Doppler’s Here Active Listening system and Here One headphones, with the complaint specifically fingering Bose executive Chris Miller. On June 2, 2016, Miller allegedly became one of the backers of the Here Active Listening system. The suit also claims that when the Here One headphones became available for pre-order in June 2016, Miller was one of the first to do so.
“In fact, Mr. Miller contacted Doppler Labs’ customer support department on June 28 and June 30, 2016 to explicitly confirm that his order would be one of the first Here One listening systems with Here Buds wireless earbuds to ship to pre-order customers,” the lawsuit reads. “Again, on information and belief, it now appears that Mr. Miller was doing this to gain early access to a competitor’s technology.”
In the meantime, Bose filed a trademark application for its Hearphones on June 17, 2016. Bose wasn’t the only company to launch a similar product around this time, with Nuheara’s IQbuds and the Olive earbuds launching in the latter half of 2016. The difference is that while both of those companies are fairly new, Bose has been in business since 1964, so it’s difficult to imagine why the company would turn to such a risky practice instead of just spending more time on research and development.
So far, Bose has yet to officially respond to the claims, nor is Doppler Labs offering any details other than what is in the suit.