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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been hit by lawsuit from Noise Free Wireless that alleges the iPhone maker used proprietary information from joint meetings to develop its own technology. Noise Free has accused Apple and its partner Audience of patent infringement, misappropriation of secrets, breach of contract, and violation of a California statute on unfair competition.
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The complaint names Apple’s iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and all three generations of the iPad and seeks “exemplary or punitive damages” for alleged misappropriation of trade secrets. It also wants the court to transfer to it any patents that could come from Apple’s own patent application for the said technology.
According to the court filing, Noise Free approached Apple with information about its patented noise reduction and cancellation system in September 2007, proposing to implement it in the iPhone. According to the complaint, in 2008 it provided Apple with a fully operational circuit board, phone mockup, and documentation after the two companies agreed to keep shared information confidential. However, the complaint alleges, Apple then “performed a series of unauthorized tests on Noise Free’s hardware, improperly extracted Noise Free’s proprietary and confidential object code,” and replicated the technology on its own.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) reportedly “ceased communication” with Noise Free in 2009 but resumed discussions next year. In the summer of 2010, Noise Free learned that Apple had chosen rival company Audience to supply noise-cancellation chipsets and software. In June 2010, Apple also filed a patent application for “User-specific noise suppression for voice quality improvements,” with the listed inventors of the patent allegedly having been involved during Noise Free’s presentations.
“On further information and belief, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) provided Audience with Noise Free’s confidential trade secret information to assist Audience in delivering a noise cancellation solution that was similar and/or identical to the solution that Noise Free designed,” the suit claims.
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