Beats By Dre is being sued by one of the original creators of the headphone’s technology, Monster. The headphone company’s CEO Noel Lee says he initially worked with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine to create the first generation of Beats headphones almost six years ago. The suit claims that Iovine and Dre committed fraud by pirating the headphone idea from Lee before they sold the company to Apple.
Lee also states in the suit filed in San Mateo California that both Beats founders hid Lee’s involvement in creating the headphone line. Lee says that he created the design and taught Dre and Iovine about engineering, manufacturing, distributing and selling the line to consumers. Once ties were cut with Lee, Iovine and Dre sold the company to Apple for $3 billion. While they made their millions, Lee and Monster lost millions due to their investments in the brand.
Originally known as Monster Cable, the company was founded in 1979 in Nevada and had made at least 150 samples of the headphones before Dre and Iovine got to see any prototypes. The headphones hit the market in 2008 as high-end style headphones pricing at over $300. Even though Beats and Monster had a five-year manufacturing and distribution deal, other investors were still contributing funds like HTC did in 2011. According to Lee, this was a conspiracy to split Monster from Beats before the end of their partnership, which is why HTC and Beats Board member Paul Wachter is listed as a defendant.
“Had the partnership expired on its own terms, there would have been no transfer of Monster’s years of work on Beats By Dr. Dre,” said Joseph Cotchett, the lawyer from California-based law firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy that will be representing Monster.
Now Lee and Monster are suing for punitive damages caused since the plan to rid the audio tech company from Beats went down years ago. This isn’t the first time Lee has revealed the conspiracy behind Beats. In 2013, Lee and his son Kevin Lee told Gizmodo how they were worked over by Dre, Iovine and Interscope and suggested that they weren’t properly compensated for the development of the original headphones.