Judge orders jury hearing against Dr Dre
The ongoing legal saga engulfing Apple-owned Beats Electronics has taken another turn. The self-proclaimed founder of the electronics company, Steven Lamar, has been given the all-clear to advance legal proceedings against Beats founders Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine.
Lamar, an audio engineer who worked on the original version of the headphones, first brought his case to the courts two years ago, citing a breach of contract with former business partners Dre and Iovine, claiming that he was “the founder of Beats headphones, its design and corporate identity.”
Originally, a 4% royalty rate for Lamar on the sales of headphones was settled in court after Dre and Iovine filed a lawsuit against Lamar in 2006 for failing to meet contractual agreements and accusing the former hedge fund manager of intending to launch his own Beats range without the involvement of Dr Dre.
This ruling was overturned Monday by California appeals court judge Roger Boren stating that the ambiguous nature of the royalty agreement between Lamar and Beats founders Dre and Iovine justifies a jury hearing.
The breakthrough poses an impending court battle for Dre and Iovine, who are no strangers to the courts. A lengthy trial is expected to ensue; the pair insists a one-product royalty deal was arranged with Lamar as there were no foreseeable plans to produce any subsequent headphone designs at the time of the agreement.
However, Judge Boren has determined otherwise, saying: “The agreement is certainly reasonably susceptible to an interpretation that it covers more than just the original, Studio, headphone model”.
In addition to the original headphone design, Beats also produces other models, such as the Solo, in which Lamar believes he is entitled to further financial compensation.
Since Apple’s US$3 billion acquisition of Beats Headphones in 2014, the lucrative takeover has become a hotbed of legal battles and personal feuds. Just last month, the duo won a case against the CEO of Monster Noel Lee over claims that Dre and Iovine had deceitfully coordinated a sham deal with another company to dissolve a contract with Lee.
Meanwhile, Apple are facing legal troubles after being dealt a US$22.1 million verdict by a US District Court in regards to a supposed patent infringement owned by Acacia Research subsidiary company Cellular Communications Equipment.