Koss Corp. is charging five competitors, including Apple Inc. and Bose Corp, with patent infringement, saying the firms took its patented technology for use in their own products.
Glendale-based Koss believes the companies “are engaging in willful infringement of several Koss patents,” Michael C. Koss, a Koss Corp. vice president, said in a statement.
The Koss statement described the suits, which were filed in U.S. District Court in Waco, Texas, as the second phase of its “Intellectual Property Enforcement Program.”
Koss disclosed the enforcement effort in a 2019 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that noted the program could result in Koss in entering into licensing arrangements or suing those who infringe on its patents.
“If successful, the Company may receive royalties, offers to purchase its intellectual property, or other proceeds in amounts that could have a material effect on its financial statements,” Koss said in the filing.
In addition to Apple and Bose, Koss also sued PEAG LLC, which does business as JLAB Audio, Plantronics Inc and Skullcandy Inc. for patent infringement.
The suits detail Koss’s development of the Striva line, noting that it “invested tens of millions of dollars developing chips, fabrication techniques, prototype headphones, and other related technology to bring the Striva vision to life.”
But, the suit notes that “the economic reality of Koss’s market position did not permit it to bring its Striva-based product vision to the masses. In particular, due to events abroad (and Koss’s reliance on sales into those foreign countries), Koss’s supply chain and customer base were thrown into upheaval in the late-2000’s and early-2010’s.”
Koss also saw larger companies with larger manufacturing facilities as a threat to Striva, the suit notes.
Though not mentioned in the suit, in 2010 Koss was also dealing with the fallout from former company executive Sujata “Sue” Sachdeva’s embezzlement of $34 million from the company. She was convicted in 2010, sentenced to 11 years.
The issues mentioned in the suit and “other circumstances outside of Koss’s control, meant that the advanced features first developed for Striva were not able to be fully experienced by the majority of the purchasing public.”
“Many of the features of the various headphones and other devices that Koss invented as part of Striva were patented, and Koss believes that major brands in the audio industry are now willfully infringing upon these patents,” the company said in its statement.
The statement warns that “the company is monitoring developments in the market and will take action against other unauthorized products being sold that infringe on any of its patents.”
“It is impossible for us to be responsible stewards of our industry when our ideas, innovations and intellectual property rights are disregarded,” Michael Koss, who is the grandson of company founder John C. Koss, said in the statement.