ClearOne Says It Isn’t Done Suing Shure; Shure Calls Allegations Meritless (Updated)

ClearOne told us today that it has filed a lawsuit against Shure Incorporated for trade secret misappropriation and willful patent infringement of a third ClearOne patent — U.S. Patent No. 9,264,553 (“’553 Patent”) — in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. This patent covers each cancelation in beamforming mic arrays. You can read the patent by clicking here.

This is in addition to the case currently pending in the same federal court asserting Shure’s products infringe ClearOne’s U.S. Pat. No. 9,635,186 and U.S. Pat. No. 9,813,806.

In this new lawsuit, ClearOne alleges that Shure has sought and obtained ClearOne’s trade secrets, including thoses relating to its beamforming microphone array products, wireless microphone products and audio DSP mixers. Shure says the “trade secrets” ClearOne mentions is simply dealer pricing. ClearOne also alleges that Shure has used its improper access to ClearOne’s trade secrets to “unfairly compete in the marketplace and harm ClearOne’s sales.”

ClearOne also alleges that Shure has willfully infringed ClearOne’s ’553 Patent by making, using, selling and offering to sell its MXA910 and MXA310 products for use with a digital signal processor that performs acoustic echo cancellation. The ’553 Patent relates to acoustic echo cancellation performed on fixed beams and is incorporated into ClearOne’s Beamforming Microphone Array products.

Shure has already tried to invalidate the ‘553 Patent. On January 24, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) rejected Shure’s effort to challenge the validity of the ’553 Patent through inter partes review (“IPR”) and on March 25, 2019, denied Shure’s request for a rehearing. ClearOne believes that Shure will be prevented from challenging the validity of the ’553 Patent during this new litigation on any basis that Shure could have raised during the IPR. Shure contacted rAVe to say that it had appealed on April 8, 2019 because the company believes, among other things, that the PTAB’s construction was improper.

“This is yet another lawsuit we have filed against Shure — a very large ClearOne competitor — in an effort to protect our substantial investment in innovation over the years,” said Zee Hakimoglu, chair and chief executive officer of ClearOne. “U.S. laws encourage innovation by awarding such investments with intellectual property rights. When others fail to respect those rights, we will take action to protect them so that we can continue delivering innovative products and superior customer experiences, as well as ensure fair competition in the marketplace. We are confident that Shure will be held responsible for its brazen actions.”

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages — including treble and punitive damages — for what ClearOne says it “past infringement and injunctive relief to prevent the continuing infringement of ClearOne’s valuable intellectual property.”

Update: Shure released the following statement:

“ClearOne is once again using litigation in an attempt to disparage Shure and recoup business losses resulting from its own failure to innovate and to provide effective solutions to the marketplace. Shure will vigorously defend against ClearOne’s meritless claims, including the allegations that Shure inappropriately had access to ClearOne dealer pricing information, which ClearOne dubiously labels a ‘trade secret.’ These allegations are simply further attempts to disrupt the channel. As with the previously asserted ‘186 and ‘806 patents, we believe the ‘553 patent is invalid and not infringed by Shure. We have appealed the PTAB’s recent ruling on the ‘553 patent and will continue to challenge ClearOne’s claims in the pending litigation and in this newly filed case,” said Mark Brunner, VP corporate and government relations, Shure.

Second update: Zee Hakimoglu, chair and CEO of ClearOne, sent us the following statement to add:

“Fair competition is healthy, and makes us all as manufacturers better. But the key word is fair.  This means on a level playing field respecting the intellectual property rights of others, which ultimately encourages further investments in innovation.  ClearOne has invested heavily over its history to create original and leading edge solutions for the AV market and will fight for its IP rights according to U.S. law.”

ClearOne is here and Shure is here.