Bose Fails in Patent-Infringement Lawsuit Against iDevice Makers

U.S. District Court rules that several small speaker dock manufacturers did not violate Bose's patent for digital audio conversion devices.

Jason Knott · July 13, 2012

A judge has ruled against Bose in a patent infringement lawsuit (click here to read legal documents) brought by the company against several small manufacturers of speaker docks.

According to one legal firm involved in the case, the ruling could have long-term ramifications for other dock manufacturers and even Apple.

In a ruling handed down in U.S. District Court in Boston, Judge D.J. Young ruled that SDI Technologies Inc., Imation Corp., Memorex Products Inc., 3XM Consulting LLC, and D.P.I. Inc. did not violate Bose’s patent for “Interactive Sound Reproducing.”

imageClick image to read legal documents

Bose had originally filed the lawsuit in August 2009 claiming up to $8 million in damages. The defendants claimed the suit should be dropped because Bose’s patent claim “765” covers an audio system and interface that receives audio signals from a computer and converts the digital signal to an audio signal, but not their products. In this case, Bose was equating an iPod, iPad or iPhone as a computer device.

All the defendants make speaker docks that connect with Apple iPods, iPads or iPhones. The lawsuit covered 144 products in total (143 that connect speakers with an “iDevice” using a 30 pin connector, and one product from SDI that uses AirPlay to connect.

The court did not rule the Bose patent itself is invalid, but instead ruled that the devices themselves did not infringe on the patent.

According to St. Louis-based legal firm Thompson Coburn that represented Imation and DPI, the ruling has long-term ramifications on the market as a whole.

“In our minds, the decision is a boon to Apple users and the entire audio technology industry that’s built up around Apple products,” says a company spokesperson. (Lawyers on the case are not directly speaking to the media at this time.) “Bose targeted three relatively low-cost producers of speaker docks with the belief they wouldn’t fight the lawsuit and pony up a license fee to Bose. Had these smaller manufacturers folded, Bose likely would have lodged similar infringement claims against higher-cost producers, continuing until it had licensed the entire market. This decision promotes the healthy competition that keeps prices down for Apple consumers.”

The spokesperson adds that Apple also risked some potential future legal exposure, as Bose could have enforced its patent against Apple, too.

Bose could not be reached for immediate comment on the ruling.

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  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jason.knott@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics

Speakers · News · Apple · Bose · Legal · All Topics
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