Apple sued over noise reduction technology

Noise Free Wireless says it showed Apple its technology and that Apple then misappropriated it

A small Silicon Valley company is suing Apple, alleging the computer maker infringed its patent covering noise-reduction technology for cell phones.

Noise Free Wireless said it presented its technology at several meetings at Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters and provided it with detailed technical information prior to Apple filing its own patent for a similar technology. The technology has gone on to be used in the iPhone 4 and 4S and all three iPad models, it said.

The case centers on U.S. patent 7,742,790, which was filed by Noise Free in May 2007 and awarded to the company in June 2010. It covers a method for reducing or cancelling environmental noise, such as wind, from a voice transmission on a cell phone.

After filing its patent, Noise Free began approaching consumer electronics companies with details of its technology, according to its complaint. It first had contact with Apple in mid-2007 and presented its work to the company in September that year, it said.

Over the next three years the companies held a number of meetings at Apple's headquarters at which confidential material including an evaluation circuit board were made available, Noise Free said. The companies initially agreed verbally to confidentiality and then signed a formal non-disclosure agreement in September 2008.

The relationship between Apple and Noise Free went sour in August 2010 when Noise Free learned Apple had decided to use technology from a rival company, Audience, in its products.

In June that year, while the companies were still talking, Apple filed U.S. patent application 2011/0300806 covering a system for suppressing noise in a signal while retaining the user's voice.

Noise Free's complaint alleges Apple "extracted Noise Free's proprietary and confidential object code, determined Noise Free's noise reduction software and measured and duplicated the signal traces from the circuit board and microcontroller," and supplied the information to Audience.

Further, it says the Apple patent filing contains some of the ideas and inventions it disclosed to Apple.

Apple and Noise Free did not return calls for comment.

Noise Free Wireless, based in nearby Santa Clara, is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to find Apple misappropriated trade secrets, breached contract, and engaged in unfair business practices. It wants damages for the alleged patent infringement and an invalidation of Apple's patent.

The case is number 12-03483, filed on July 3.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?