Apple, Koss settle wireless-headphone patent fight before trial

2 minute read

Apple AirPods are displayed during a media event in San Francisco, California, U.S. September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

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  • Koss accused Apple of copying wireless headphone tech
  • Companies settled Saturday before scheduled Monday trial

(Reuters) - Apple Inc has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by headphone maker Koss Corp over Apple's AirPod earbuds and Beats headphones, the companies said in a court filing Saturday.

With trial in the case set to begin Monday, the companies told the Waco, Texas federal court that they had resolved allegations that Apple infringed Koss' wireless-headphone patents.

U.S. District Judge Alan Albright dismissed the case with prejudice the same day, which means it cannot be refiled.

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Details of the settlement were not available, and the companies and their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Koss sued Apple in 2020 for allegedly infringing several patents covering aspects of a wireless headphone system that Koss said it developed in the early 2000s.

Koss also sued other competitors in West Texas, including Bose and Skullcandy. Those cases are now pending on other courts.

Koss told the Texas court it turned to litigation because the headphone industry had "caught up to Koss's early 2000s vision" and its technology had "become standardized, with whole listening ecosystems having been built around the techniques Koss conceived of over a decade ago."

Koss asked for royalties from sales of AirPods and wireless Beats headphones in the Apple case.

Apple argued that its products did not infringe and that the patents were invalid. It also sued Koss in San Francisco shortly after Koss brought its lawsuit, arguing the complaint included confidential information from their licensing discussions.

The Saturday filing in Texas says the companies have settled "all matters in controversy between them."

The case is Koss Corp v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, No. 6:20-cv-00665.

For Koss: Peter Soskin, Benjamin Weed, Jim Shimota and Darlene Ghavimi of K&L Gates.

For Apple: Michael Pieja of Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum

Read more:

Apple fires back at patent plaintiff over 'breach' of confidentiality agreement

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com