Bose is suing Beats for infringement of its patents pertaining to ANC/ANR (active noise cancellation/reduction). The causes of action are listed as:
- Count I – Infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,717,537
- Method and apparatus for minimizing latency in digital signal processing systems
- Excerpt(s) from the patent:
- "While widely used in the art, the conventional analog approach for reducing noise in a system is not without its problems. ANC systems are theoretically able to null the noise by generating a phase-inverted antinoise signal, however, as a practical concern, the various components of the system such as the input and output transducers will introduce certain undesirable delays. These delays may adversely affect the frequency range over which noise can be cancelled, the degree to which noise can be cancelled, and the stability of the noise-cancellation system. It is therefore desirable to be able to minimize the associated delays in the circuit. Likewise, it is also desirable to be able to adjust the circuit to compensate for component variation and manufacturing tolerances and for usage conditions to maximize the noise-cancellation frequency range and noise-cancellation ratio. Such adjustability is difficult to achieve using analog techniques. Another desirable function that can prove difficult in the analog domain is the equalization of the signal for frequency-dependent attenuation caused by subsequent processing functions."
- Count II – Infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,073,150
- Dynamically configurable ANR signal processing topology
- Count III – Infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,073,151
- Dynamically configurable ANR filter block topology
- Count IV – Infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,054,992
- High frequency compensating
- Count V – Infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,345,888
- Digital high frequency phase compensation
The Beats products Bose specifically names are the Beats Studio and the Beats Studio Wireless. Though Bose makes mention in the suit of all of its ANR/ANC models (past and present), only its Bose QC20 is mentioned repeatedly, perhaps because "The QC20 embodies at least one invention claimed by each of the Asserted Patents," and it is their most recent active noise canceling model.
By now, most of you probably know that Apple recently acquired Beats for around $3 billion, so some may find the timing of Bose's lawsuit interesting.
This could be an intriguing lawsuit to pay attention to (assuming it isn't settled out first). Also, I have to imagine, given the scope of Bose's patents, that perhaps other companies making ANR/ANC headphones may similarly find themselves named as defendants in the future.