What isn’t music to Apple’s ears? Bose suing Beats

July 25, 2014, 6:52 PM UTC
Apple Said To Be In Talks To Purchase Beats Headphones Company
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Beats headphones are sold in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City. Apple is rumored to be consideringing buying the headphone company for $3.2 billion. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Photograph by Andrew Burton—Getty Images

A lawsuit filed against headphone maker Beats Electronics LLC isn’t likely to be music to Apple’s ears.

Audio-equipment maker Bose Corp., which sells headphones, speakers and other gadgets, filed a lawsuit against Beats Electronics in a U.S. District Court over noise-canceling headphone patents. Beats is poised to be acquired later this year by consumer-electronics behemoth Apple (AAPL).

In addition to the lawsuit, which was filed in Delaware, Bose also failed a complaint against Beats in the U.S. International Trade Commission. Bose has requested the ITC launch an investigation into the sale of noise-cancellation headphones, including Beats Studio and Beats Studio Wireless, which allegedly infringe on “one or more” of Bose’s valid U.S. patents. Bose is requesting a permanent cease and desist order, which would halt the sale and marketing of some of Beats’ products. In the District Court filing, Bose is asking for “award of damages sufficient to compensate Bose” for Beats’ alleged infringement of the company’s patents.

“We are committed to protecting our investment, protecting our customers, and defending the patents we own,” said Bose representative Carolyn Cinotti in a statement.

Bose, which says it won’t comment on ongoing litigation, added that for over 30 years it has made “significant investments in the research, development, engineering and design” of the technologies in its headphones. Bose argues its line of noise-canceling headlines are protected by at least 36 U.S. patents and pending applications. The company first began to sell noise reduction headsets commercially in 1989. Subsequent product launches improved upon that technology.

An Apple representative was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Apple in late May agreed to pay $3 billion in a cash-and-stock deal to buy Beats, which also has a music-streaming service. The acquisition is expected to close later this year. Some analysts questioned the logic behind the deal when rumors first surfaced, though bullish observers say Beats commands high margins for its products and could complement Apple’s iTunes Radio offering.

The lawsuit comes a few days after Apple reported fiscal third-quarter results, which included a 6% jump in revenue and a 20% increase in per-share earnings. Results were bolstered by higher iPhone and Mac sales.