NEWS: Beats in a lawsuit with Yamaha
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According to a recent article on Hollywood Reporter, Dr. Dre's Beats Electronics is suing Yamaha in California federal court, alleging violations of patents with Yamaha's Pro 300, Pro 400 and Pro 500 lines of headphones.  
 
Beats seeks to protect rights on a number of its products -- including the Beats Studio and Beats Solo headphones -- and that its proprietary trade dress extends to "the overall appearance of the shape and design of the headphone, including the size, proportion and curvature of the headband, yoke and earcups."
 
Here's an image from the article comparing both Beats and Yamaha headphones, side by side.
 
 

What do you think?
 
(Read the full article at Hollywood Reporter here.)
 
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Spakka

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In all honesty, I think beats actually have a point there...
 
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but not suing every other company that rips off the style?
 
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Quote:
but not suing every other company that rips off the style?
 
Lawsuit decisions are pretty simple calculus. Do we have a strong case, is the company in our jurisdiction (e.g. not chinese knock offs) and is the company big enough to make it worth our while? 
 
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Exactly, just because they don't pursue all companies they may feel could be 'borrowing' their style doesn't lose them the right to do it at all.
 
In any case both of those look cheap and nasty. 
 
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From the moment I saw these headphones I thought the design of these headphones was a complete rip off of Beats and seriously wondered why they would even consider this design. I don't even like the flashy, cheap design of Monster headphones in the first place. I respect Yamaha as an audio company, but targeting a consumer market in this way is pathetic 
. Then I saw this, and now I'm not sure what to think...

...while it is hilarious, they made it clear that they are copying the design and are probably going to be forced to pay a reasonable fine. Then again, a ton of other companies have copied this exact design and Monster took no legal action. I think that Monster are afraid of Yamaha having superior sonic quality to their headphones and don't want them intruding on the Beats sales.
 
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I commented on this in the Yamaha PRO thread and there was a strong response.  I am in no way a fan of Beats- looks or sound.  I have also read the Yamaha PRO series sound fantastic, but  sound is not the issue.  It is one thing for a product to bear a passing resemblance to another.  In fact, I was annoyed when some commented the Denon D600 and PSB M4U2 are Beats-like in appearance because, in my opinion, they don't bear a close resemblance to Beats just because they are plastic and have folding hinges.
 
The reason I think the Beats suit does have merit is that the Yamaha PRO series looks so much like Beats that the argument could be made the similarity is intentional so that Yamaha can capitalize on the popularity of the Beats design.  For anyone thinking this is the big, bad conglomerate trying to squash the little upstart, Yamaha as a whole is a much larger company than the current iteration of Beats.  Don't think for a minute Yamaha didn't have design meetings where they discussed how they could make their headphones look as much like Beats as possible without appearing to be a blatant copy.
 
 
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This only re-enforces what we all suspected - beats are only interested in profits, not sound. 
If they were certain of the superiority of the sound quality of their product, they would let the public decide by ear.
 
But their business model is based on merchandising, branding and marketing. They've created something to make people believe they need it. 
There have been a small number of other headphones from VERY small companies that have similar looks to the beats, but as previously mentioned, as soon as a high-roller comes along it's a different story. 
 
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Quote:
This only re-enforces what we all suspected - beats are only interested in profits, not sound. 
If they were certain of the superiority of the sound quality of their product, they would let the public decide by ear.
 
But their business model is based on merchandising, branding and marketing. They've created something to make people believe they need it. 
There have been a small number of other headphones from VERY small companies that have similar looks to the beats, but as previously mentioned, as soon as a high-roller comes along it's a different story. 

Every company is interested in profits.  Sound isn't the issue here. Every company has the right to protect their intellectual property, including patents where they invested huge sums of money to develop their products and brand so that they could reap the benefits of long term profits.  Wanting to make a profit doesn't make a company evil and no one is forcing consumers to buy Beats.  The reality is that, for many Beats customers, sound is secondary to fashion.  While Yamaha may offer the best of both worlds for those customers, Beats can argue that they are so similar, it causes confusion in the market.  If I was an executive with Noontec, I would also be concerned.
 
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It's obvious what Yamaha is trying to do here. But personally I find it hard to justify lawsuits over similar looking designs. Creativity, in reality, is little more than iteration of what you've already seen / heard. Of course it's obvious that here the only big "inspiration" is the Beats, however then you have to ask: What's the barrier? When is something stealing and when is something just inspired?
 
If you ask me the best solution to the problem would be to make a superior product rather than sue. Then again, who's got time for good products when you've got marketing to muck about with.
 
And that goes for yamaha too, they'd be better off just making a good sounding, stylish looking headphone rather than trying to reap the benefits of looking like Beats.
 
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But personally I find it hard to justify lawsuits over similar looking designs. Creativity, in reality, is little more than iteration of what you've already seen / heard.
 
 
Yes and no. There is very good precedent for industrial design intellectual property - especially with active product lines. There is also a big damn difference between being influenced by something, and ripping it off. And, of course, judges get the final say on it... not us. :) 
 
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I do think that Beats will have a strong case here, possible with the help of the Apple v Samsung precedent if they find it relevant. According this site: http://www.complex.com/music/2013/02/dr-dre-and-beats-electronics-are-suing-yamaha-for-copying-their-headphone-design, they are only suing for $75,000, which is a minuscule amount. So Beats aren't really in this for money, but for another reason. 
 
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They sued Fanny Wang too didn't they? If I recall, that one just kinda fizzled. 
 
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Quote:
It's obvious what Yamaha is trying to do here. But personally I find it hard to justify lawsuits over similar looking designs. Creativity, in reality, is little more than iteration of what you've already seen / heard. Of course it's obvious that here the only big "inspiration" is the Beats, however then you have to ask: What's the barrier? When is something stealing and when is something just inspired?
 
If you ask me the best solution to the problem would be to make a superior product rather than sue. Then again, who's got time for good products when you've got marketing to muck about with.
 
And that goes for yamaha too, they'd be better off just making a good sounding, stylish looking headphone rather than trying to reap the benefits of looking like Beats.
You bring up a good point here, legal issue aside, nearly every audio company is jumping on the headphone wagon and they should keep in mind that their first headphones are a reflection on their entire brand.  Yamaha has been a respected name in recording and home audio for years.  The look and build of these headphones are, IMO, not reflective of the image and quality Yamaha has represented to me in the past.  I applaud their effort with the sound on these, but I believe they made a miscalculation with the looks. 
 

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