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Bose sues Beats 'to protect' noise-canceling headphone technology

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Bose has sued Beats Electronics over noise-canceling technology it says is wrongfully being used in the latter company's headphones. Until now, the two have managed to coexist peacefully in the headphone market, with each finding lucrative success. But now they may square off in court. Beats is of course in the process of being acquired by Apple. A lawsuit is unlikely to affect that deal, but may pose an unwanted and early challenge for Apple once it assumes ownership of the company. CNBC was first to report the lawsuit.

Beats uses noise cancellation technology in its Beats Studio, Beats Studio Wireless, and Beats Pro headphones. Bose calls out the Studio and Studio Wireless products in its complaint, accusing Beats of infringing on patents that have grown to be an essential part of Bose's business. The document summarizes Bose's long history, extensive research, and deep investments in the area of noise cancellation — dating all the way back to 1978. The company's QuietComfort line of headphones have proven hugely popular with frequent flyers and other consumers looking to tune out ambient noise.

Clearly Bose thinks Beats is now (illegally) encroaching on its territory. It's hoping the court will put an end to that by finding that the infringement is willful; Bose also wants to see an injunction and accounting behind "all infringing sales and other infringing acts by Beats." And of course it's seeking monetary damages "to compensate Bose for Beats’ infringement" of the patents in question and all associated court costs. We've reached out to Beats, Bose, and Apple for comment on the pending legal battle.