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Apple Settles Patent Lawsuit That Claimed It Stole AirPod Tech

Koss claimed Apple infringed it's "pioneering" technology when the Cupertino giant made a "late foray" into wireless headphones.

Apple has reached a settlement on the eve of trial to end a patent lawsuit filed over its AirPods by longtime headphone maker Koss, which claimed the tech giant was infringing the smaller company’s “pioneering” wireless headphone technology.

With a jury trial set to kick off on Monday morning in Texas federal court, a judge signed off Friday on a deal to fully dismiss the case, in which Koss claimed that Apple’s popular earbuds, launched in 2016, infringed five separate patents for wireless headphone tech.

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In court papers, the two companies said they had “resolved all matters in controversy between them,” but did not include any additional details, like whether any money had exchanged hands or any products would be altered. Neither company’s attorneys immediately returned requests for comment on Monday.

Koss sued Apple, Bose and a slew of other companies in 2020, claiming that their wireless headphones all infringed patented tech related to STRIVA, which Koss introduced in 2012 under the banner of the “World’s First Wi-Fi Headphone System.” The case against Apple claimed the iPhone maker had made a “late foray into the wireless headphone space” and was now “reaping enormous benefits” from technology pioneered by Koss.

“Koss brings the instant lawsuit because the industry has caught up to Koss’s early-2000s vision: the technology Koss developed as part of its substantial Striva investment has become standardized, with whole listening ecosystems having been built around the techniques Koss conceived of over a decade ago.

Apple quickly hit back, filing a countersuit that said the two companies had engaged in settlement talks in 2017 over Koss’s allegations years prior and had signed extensive NDAs — agreements that Koss was now breaching by mentioning the negotiations in the lawsuit.

“Having enticed Apple to participate in discussions, reveal information, and forego some of its legal options, Koss [agreed to] not use Apple’s participation against it as a “gotcha” to bring claims in a later litigation,” Apple wrote at the time. “That, however, is exactly what Koss did.”

Under the terms of Friday’s agreement, both sides agreed to drop their allegations against the other.