Salt Lake City, UT (May 3, 2017)—ClearOne has been awarded a patent on a system and method for combining echo cancellation and beamforming microphone arrays, for which the company swiftly moved to file suit for infringement against Shure, Biamp, and QSC, as collective defendants.
ClearOne was awarded a patent for its Beamforming Microphone Array on April 25, 2017. The U.S. patent (No. 9,635,186), entitled “Conferencing Apparatus that Combines a Beamforming Microphone Array with an Acoustic Echo Canceller,” was issued April 25, 2017. The subsequent legal complaint was also filed April 25.
ClearOne first developed its beamforming microphone conferencing system in 2010, according to the company, designed to replace up to a dozen individual mics with a small beamforming array. The Beamforming Microphone Array audio conferencing system was brought to market in 2012, combining beamforming, AEC and adaptive steering. The second generation was introduced in June 2016, operating on new peripheral bus architecture, allowing it to connect with ClearOne’s Converge Pro 2 DSP mixers.
At Integrated Systems Europe 2016, Shure debuted the Microflex Advance portfolio of networked ceiling and table array microphones, audio interfaces, and control software for conferencing. The MicroFlex Array includes steerable coverage, enabling up to eight lobes of pickup, configurable in three dimensions. The solution began shipping in August 2016.
Biamp and Shure created an integrated compatibility between Biamp’s Tesira audio processors and software to support Shure’s MicroFlex Advance solutions. QSC has partnered with Shure to integrate the Q-SYS Platform with the Microflex Advance.
ClearOne is seeking injunctive relief, meaning Shure, QSC, and Biamp would need to stop selling and promoting these products. Once a motion for injunction is filed, a judge would need to rule.
Alexander C.D. Giza, of Hueston Hennigan LLP, the firm representing ClearOne, stated: “ClearOne and its inventors and engineers have invested millions of dollars and hours of effort in research and development on this important technology. As a result, they manufacture industry-leading beamforming and acoustic echo cancellation audio conferencing systems. And as of Tuesday, they have a US patent on this invention. ClearOne is entitled to have its patent and innovation respected by the industry.”
In response to the filing, Shure released a statement noting that before the patent was awarded, on March 10, 2017, ClearOne issued a letter to Shure alleging that Shure’s Microflex Advance Array Microphone, in combination with certain “acoustic echo cancellation products,” infringed patent rights arising from the then-pending patent.
Shure went on in the statement to note that it "strongly believes the accusations are without merit." Accordingly, Shure filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in Federal District Court in Chicago seeking declaration that the ‘186 Patent is invalid, among other reasons due to the existence of prior art, and that Shure products (alone or in combination with other Shure or third party products) do not infringe the ‘186 Patent. ClearOne subsequently filed a duplicative action in Utah that Shure believes is also without merit. Shure stated that it intends to "vigorously defend itself in this matter and protect its intellectual property, products, and customers."
Amanda Roe, Biamp, global public relations manager, noted, “We are aware of the lawsuit and are currently analyzing the matter in order to respond accordingly.”
A spokesperson for QSC commented, "QSC acknowledges that it has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Clearone, Inc. alleging patent infringement. QSC disagrees with ClearOne's assertions, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter."
An earlier version of this article originally appeared on systemscontractor.com as ClearOne Files Patent Infringement Suit Against Shure, Biamp, QSC.