Beats Takes Headphone Fight to Court

           LOS ANGELES (CN) – Roam earphones trade on Beats Electronics’ reputation by falsely claiming that its owner co-founded Beats with Dr. Dre, Beats claims court.
     Roam, based in Belvedere Tiburon, announced the release of its Rope brand of earphones on Sept. 4. It falsely claimed that its owner, defendant Steven Lamar’s company Jibe Audio, “was responsible for the ‘concept, design, manufacturing and distribution of the Beats by Dr. Dre headphone product line,'” according to the federal lawsuit.
     “Following defendants’ false and misleading claims, third-party articles, tweets, and blog-postings inaccurately referred to Lamar as a ‘co-founder’ or an ’employee’ of Beats. Lamar perpetuated these inaccuracies by tweeting direct links to these stories,” the 18-page complaint states.
     Beats, of Santa Monica, claims that Lamar and Roam removed some but not all of the misleading claims from social media sources. Other than that, Roam did not take back the statements, Beats claims.
     Roam is “clearly” trying to “draw a connection between the well-known and extremely successful Beats brand and Roam’s new Ropes headphones,” Beats claims.
     It claims that in early 2006, Beats co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine entered into discussions with Lamar and his company SLS International to develop the new headphones. According to Beats, the collaboration fell apart when Lamar breached an oral agreement.
     Dr. Dre and Iovine later sued Lamar. The parties settled the dispute on Apr. 24, 2009, according to the lawsuit.
     “As part of the settlement, all rights, title, and interest in the headphone design and the trademark ‘Beats by Dr. Dre’ were assigned exclusively to Dr. Dre and Mr. Iovine. Dr. Dre and Mr. Iovine have had no further relationship with Lamar, SLS, or Jibe Audio since the settlement of the 2006 lawsuit,” the complaint states.
     Lamar’s spokeswoman, Catherine Ku, called Beats’ lawsuit “erroneous and unsubstantiated.”
     “Steven Lamar’s role and significant contribution as a creator of the Beats by Dr. Dre brand and its headphone product line have been acknowledged for nearly a decade,” Ku wrote in an email. “This is the reason for his agreement to receive royalty payments from Beats. Mr. Lamar does not claim to be a shareholder or employee in any ‘Beats’ related businesses established after he, Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young settled their dispute in 2007.” Apple acquired Beats on Aug. 1 for $3 billion. Beats claims that Roam announced its new Ropes earphones just over a month later to coincide with the buzz created by Apple’s buyout. The complaint says that the Ropes earphones will not be available until Nov. 20.
     Beats seeks an injunction and damages for false advertising. It is represented by David Walsh with Morrison & Foerster.

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