Former Star Wars audio company THX sues Apple over speakers

Former Star Wars audio company THX sues Apple over speakers

THX, the audio company founded by George Lucas to ensure the audio quality of the Star Wars films, has filed a patent infringement suit against Apple for the speakers used on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Independent since 2001, THX holds a 2008 patent for a sound-boosting speaker. Karen Gullo & Joel Rosenblatt of Bloomberg report:

Apple products that incorporate the speaker units infringe the THX patent, causing the company “monetary damage and irreparable harm,” according to the lawsuit. The complaint seeks a court order to stop the alleged infringement and a reasonable royalty, or damages to compensate THX for lost profit.

The suit was filed in San Jose, California and seems to target the speakers Apple has employed along the thin bottom edges of their mobile and all-in-one Mac devices. And... that's about all there is to report right now.

Apple gets hit with lawsuits all the time, and this one will probably get more attention than other, similarly sizes suits because, Star Wars headlines.

Other than that, the story probably won't be unusual -- money will change hands either in a settlement before trial or as a result of verdict after long, oft-appealed court battles.

If and when a deal is reached, or Bobba Fett shows up, we'll update.

Source: Bloomberg

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter,, Google+.

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There are 31 comments. Add yours.

AtomicButtercup says:

He's a clone of Janggo Fett.

Divegeek says:

or is it spelled "Django"?

lbaxter says:

I am saddened that you had to reference Episode II in order to explain the infamous Boba Fett, the best known and most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy.

Dev from tipb says:

Because everybody knows you need the Star Wars Holiday Special to explain him.


Do they have a legitimate case here or is money going to exchange hands just to settle the lawsuit? Either way, I expected better sound quality from THX

asuperstarr says:

I'm sure if this is the case, they will settle.

metllicamilitia says:

Really, for speakers? THX has been around since the 70's then if it was made for Star Wars and now, almost 40 years later, they want to sue Apple, because of speakers? This truly is the age of frivolous lawsuits.

TheLegoman says:

This is ridiculous. I wonder what THX expects to get out of this besides money.

asuperstarr says:

Typically that's all they want

m_thoroughbred says:

My thing is why do these companies wait so long to sue. I know it's obvious why but I then if you know this to be true from the beginning why sue for damages if you allowed said company to use design/technology?

m_thoroughbred says:

My thing is why do these companies wait so long to sue. I know it's obvious why but I then if you know this to be true from the beginning why sue for damages if you allowed said company to use design/technology?

arin.failing says:

This, in my opinion, is absolutely frivolous. How does this cause irreparable harm? How does this monetary damage? While I understand that THX is most certainly entitled to a percentage of a products revenue that is sold which uses its technology, I don't think that this has DAMAGED them financially, nor do I think they need to bounce back (if you will) from those nonexistent damages. They are not releasing a competing product; I've seen no trace [read: rumor] pertaining to a THXPhone, THXPad or iTHX computer. This would make the above statement valid, but they are solely a speaker/audio company that has yet to embed this technology in competing products. If this was a Beats audio infringement or Bose audio infringement, I would understand.... THEY have products in the competing market with their tech inside of it.

Again, I chalk this one on the frivolous side of the scoreboard.

Exxod says:

THX is just going for cash. Screw them, and the-now-Disney-owned Star Wars franchise.

shinuyuki says:

This seems frivolous. There is no way it damaged them at all; however, they do deserve royalty for their patent. If you actually think Apple will pay a reasonable amount of money, think again. They have no problem demanding royalties of insane prices but absolutely refuse to pay anything that can be deemed reasonable.

asuperstarr says:

Wow! Everybody has a lawsuit these days!

quamdar says:

Now is the age of cell phone related law suits. Wish I had went to law school instead of engineering... (not really, LOL)

monhall says:

This just feels so the Avengers suing the X-Men or something. Apple and THX seem like natural partners, not foes.

john_v says:

THX just wants to be able to tell Apple, "No Apple, we are your daddy!"

elcoholic says:

I've never heard theater type sound ever come out of any of my devices.

iRy757 says:

Hahaha, this is terrible.

My favorite part is "or damages to compensate THX for lost profit" ... Lost profit of what?!

wscotchmer says:

Exactly what I was thinking.

Carioca32 says:

Of their speaker tech obviously. If Apple wanted to use it, it should have asked before and negotiated royalties. I don't understand why Apple fans, of all people, have any kind of trouble understanding this.

It seems Apple is entitled to sue everybody to protect their patents, but everybody else is frivolous if they try to protect theirs.

Disturbed_Angel says:

Aggressive negotiation maybe?

AdrianGabeChen says:

A big problem in tech is that everyone sues everyone for everything these days

SuperBad007 says:

Dolby has been eating THX so in order to get some money they are suing Apple. THX instead of wasting money on lawyers you can invest them in inventing new technology and regaining market from Dolby.

ThaKrazyOne says:

So does this mean Apple's iPhones, iPods, iPads and Macs are all unofficially THX Certified? I mean since Apple is "supposedly" infringing on patents and technology that THX created.

Watcher says:

EDIT: Third paragraph from the bottom...

"similarly sizes suits"

s/b "similarly-sized suits"

SFCMM_Spuds says:

For THX sound in a speaker. Don't think apple hit that one. I sure don't find THX sound coming out of my Mac