Koss sues Apple and Bose for allegedly copying wireless headphone tech

JLab, Plantronics and Skullcandy are also targets.

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Koss isn’t faring as well as some companies in the wireless headphone space, but it might compensate for that through a string of lawsuits. As Patently Apple reports, Koss has sued Apple, Bose, JLab, Plantronics and Skullcandy for allegedly violating patents on wireless headphone technology. The company claimed AirPods, the Bose 700 and other Bluetooth headphones are copying features from Koss’ Striva line of WiFi audio gear, and it wanted a payback now that the industry had “caught up” to work Koss started in the early 2000s.

The firm added that it would have been a major force in wireless headphones if it weren’t for “upheaval[s]” in the market and manufacturing world that prevented Striva from either launching sooner or reaching a wider audience. The supposedly infringing companies were also notified of violations before the lawsuits were filed, although the dates for those notifications varied. Koss said it alerted Apple as early as 2017, but that it didn’t warn Bose until days before the lawsuit, on July 9th.

Koss didn’t ask the court to block sales of the headphones involved in the dispute. It instead focused on money, demanding that its competitors pay “three times” the damages determined by either the court or the jury.

We’ve asked Apple and Bose for comment.

This may be a challenging case for Koss. It’s effectively arguing that it owns modern concepts behind true wireless audio, and that means proving that five major names in headphones were building on the Striva formula rather than developing products independently. Surprise infringement notices don’t help, either — companies like Bose aren’t about to change product designs in two weeks.

More importantly, the lawsuits conspicuously skip companies that announced similar products earlier. Bragi unveiled its Dash earbuds in early 2014 and shipped them several months before AirPods reached the market, but isn’t named in the cases. The lawsuits are focused on some of the more successful audio brands, not the first to bring key products to market, and that could be problematic if Koss wants to show that it’s consistent about enforcing its patents.