Apple AirPods wireless tech patent spat finally gets settled

AirPods and AirPods Pro on a table
(Image credit: Future)

Apple and headphone-maker Koss have reportedly settled a patent dispute relating to the wireless technology used in AirPods and some Beats accessories.

The dispute, which was set to go to trial this week at the Waco, Texas federal court, has now ended with the two companies saying that "they had resolved allegations that Apple infringed Koss' wireless-headphone patents" according to Reuters. The settlement was confirmed this past weekend.

Few details about the settlement have been made available, but we do know that Koss has also gone after Bose and Skullcandy for their use of technology that it believes it holds the patents for. Those cases continue and are unrelated to this news.

Koss had previously asked for royalties from the sale of AirPods and similar accessories after saying that its technology had "become standardized, with whole listening ecosystems having been built around the techniques Koss conceived of over a decade ago." That's why, it says, it turned to litigation relating to technology it first devised back in the early 2000s.

Suit and countersuit

Prior to this latest news, Apple had said that it did not infringe upon any Koss patents and went a step further by suing the company in San Francisco. That suit related to claims that the discussions with Koss saw the headphone-maker leak confidential information.

Now, both companies say that "all matters in controversy between them." The case reference was Koss Corp v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, and carried case number 6:20-cv-00665.

AirPods and AirPods Pro are some of the best iPhone, Mac, and iPad earbuds on the market thanks to the way they instantly pair with, and switch between devices. The same can be said for many Beats products that also use Apple's wireless technology — a key differentiator over audio accessories that don't offer the same level of integration.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.