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Koss sues Apple over wireless headphone patents, wants royalties

Koss, the American company that essentially launched stereo headphones in 1958 with its invention of the Stereophone, is suing Apple over its sales of wireless stereo headphones.

According to Koss’ claim, discovered by Patently Apple, Apple allegedly violated five of Koss’ patents, all of which relate to the use of wireless technology to create wireless stereo headphones:

  • 10,206,025 – System with wireless earphones
  • 10,298,451 – Configuring wireless devices for a wireless infrastructure network
  • 10,469,934 – System with wireless earphones
  • 10,491,982 -System with wireless earphones
  • 10,506,325 – System with wireless earphones

Koss is asking the courts to award damages based on Apple’s alleged liability to Koss in “an amount that compensates it for such infringement, which by law cannot be less than a reasonable royalty, together with interest and costs.”

If the lawsuit is successful, it could award Koss damages well into the millions of dollars.

Digital Trends did not immediately get a response from Apple or Koss when we contacted them about this lawsuit. We will update this story when we hear back.

Given that Apple owns Beats, one of the most popular brands of wireless headphones, as well as being the maker of AirPods and AirPods Pro, two of the most popular models of true wireless earbuds, the claimed royalties that Koss is seeking would be substantial.

But if Apple has indeed violated Koss’ patents as the company alleges, then surely it isn’t the only company to do so. Koss says as much in the text of its claim: “Apple and others are reaping enormous benefits due to John C. Koss’ vision, and Koss Corporation’s commitment to that vision for more than six decades.”

It’s not clear why Koss hasn’t named these “others” in its suit. For its part, Koss claims that it had several meetings with Apple to discuss the patents in question, but Apple allegedly denied any infringing activity.

Despite its reputation as one of the earliest innovators, and its broad product line of headphone models, including some that are wireless, Koss has failed to capture much of the current conversation around personal audio.

It lacks the slick marketing muscle of brands like Beats, Skullcandy, and Apple, and has had a hard time keeping up with innovations like active noise cancellation (ANC), which companies like Sony have used to set new standards within the headphone market.

Perhaps most critically when comparing Koss to Apple, Koss has yet to sell a model of true wireless earbuds, the newest and hottest segment of the personal audio space.

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Simon Cohen
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