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Patent War: Did Apple Steal Noise Free’s Technology?

Noise Free Wireless is suing Apple for misappropriation of technology secrets and patent infringement. The noise reduction company claims that Apple has stolen the technology it developed and presented during their closed–door presentations.

As the court documents reveal–posted by MacNN, Noise Free invented, designed and deployed a novel solution for background noise reduction, or noise cancellation, and claims it solved the continuous problem of mobile devices used in environments of different noise levels (restaurants, public transportation, streets, etc.).

Apple Steal Noise Free’s technology? Audience's EarSmart technology implemented in the iPhone 4 and 4S
With the solution in their hands, Noise Free filed a patent and approached technology companies, including Apple in 2007, to present their novel system and method, and held several presentations. Discussions were held behind closed doors, with the company providing confidential information to Apple, with even Apple’s head of mobile phone and tablets participating at a meeting.

However, Apple broke communication with Noise Free—it even failed to return documentation—and finally decided to partner with Audience to supply its EarSmart technology for the iPhone and 4S. Apple even filed US patent application 2011/0300806, which, interestingly, covers a system to suppress the noise in the audio signal and preserve the user’s voice. Noise Free claims Apple infringes US patent ‘790, granted to the company in 2010, with the iPhone and iPhone 4S.

Apple and Audience’s EarSmart Noise Reduction Technology

Audience’s EarSmart technology is integrated into both Apple devices (iPhone 4/4S), but the same technology prevents Siri from hearing you on the iPhone 4. The noise reduction technology came under the attention of Linley Gwennap, an analyst of Linley Group, who asked himself why the iPhone 4S’ A5 chip was so big – bigger chips consume more energy and cost more. The answer: Apple integrated the EarSmart technology right into the A5 chip powering the iPhone 4S.

As Audience pointed out when Apple rolled out the iPhone 4, EarSmart was good enough, but they spent the year focusing on improving the technology, which finally ended up in the A5 processor.

Now, our question is - why did Apple, HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony and Sharp choose Audience instead of Noise Free? Does Audience’s list of clients confirm that Noise Free is just another company who wants a piece of Apple’s cash pile? Let's see if Apple did steal Noise Free's technology.

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