Apple sues Steven Lamar over Beats co-founder claims

Forgot about Dre? Nope...

Apple is suing Steven Lamar, the man who is currently suing Beats for allegedly cutting him out of its Apple deal, alleging that he had falsely claimed to be a co-founder of the electronics firm.

Lamar and his earlier firm, Jibe Audio, filed a claim against Beats, and by extension new owner Apple, earlier this year, alleging that he was one of the founders of the firm and had come up much of its business model, product concepts and iconic designs and he wasn’t getting paid for his share.

He claimed that the other founders had already agreed to pay some royalties to him and Jibe as part of the settlement of earlier legal action in 2006, but the firm had only received royalty shares for the Studio model of headphones. He painted a complicated picture of various interested parties suing and settling with each other over the company’s profits.

In response, Apple subsidiary Beats has sued Lamar for falsely presenting himself as a co-founder of the firm and using the Beats name to promote his own headphone firm ROAM, set up last year.

“Defendant’s claims are false and misleading because Lamar is not a 'co-founder' of Beats Electronics: he does not have – nor has he ever had – any ownership interest in the company,” Beats said in its complaint. “Moreover, Jibe Audio was not responsible for the 'concept, design, manufacturing and distribution' of Beats’ headphones.

“Defendant's false and misleading statements are clearly intended to draw a connection between the well-known and extremely successful Beats brand and ROAM’s new ROPES headphones, to Defendant's commercial benefit.”

Beats asserts that rap moguls Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine came up with the concept and engaged in talks with another of Lamar’s firms, SLS International. The company claims that after the three agreed to work together on making headphones, Lamar breached their oral agreement. Dre and Iovine subsequently took him to court in 2006 and then settled the dispute, thereby ending their relationship.

Beats also claims that Lamar only became interested in talking about his connections to Beats when it became public knowledge that Apple planned to buy the firm. The company alleges that Lamar used the publicity around the acquisition to promote ROAM and its Rope headphones.

The firm wants the court to stop Lamar from claiming co-founder status and remove existing references to that allegedly false status from social media and online sites. It also wants Lamar to issue a public statement correcting his earlier statements and contact any media or third party who has ever referred to Jibe as having involvement with Beats and asking them to remove all references.

Aside from that Sisyphean task, Beats also wants treble damages based on profits made by Lamar and ROAM off his statements. ®

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