Dre and Jimmy Iovine must pay over $25 million to Steven Lamar, a former business partner who helped come up with the Beats By Dre headphone design.
Dr. Dre and fellow music mogul Jimmy Iovine have been ordered to pay $25.2 million to one of their former business partners after losing a lawsuit regarding their headphone company, Beats By Dre.
A man named Steven Lamar had claimed credit for the idea of issuing a brand of celebrity-endorsed headphones. He originally took the idea to established music partners Dre (real name Andre Young) and Jimmy Iovine back in 2006, with the first Beats headphones released two years later based on a design by Robert Brunner.
The parties later fell out over the issue of royalties, and in 2016 sued Dre and Iovine for unpaid income.
Dr. Dre and business partner Jimmy Iovine must pay over $25 million
The lawsuit centred on a 2007 agreement in which Dre and Iovine would pay 4% of the base price of every set of headphones they sold. Only one make of the Beats headphone models was specified in that agreement, but Lamar argued that the same royalty agreement should apply to every one of a dozen different models subsequently released. He therefore sought $130 million in royalties.
However, a jury in Los Angeles found on Wednesday (June 27th) that only three pairs of headphones - the Studio 2 Remastered, the Studio 2 Wireless and the Studio 3 - had design similarities to his original. The judge therefore ordered that Dre and Iovine should pay Lamar $25,247,350.
The trial saw Dre and Iovine testify personally as to the origins of Beats, apparently to the effect that they had already thought of a headphone design concept before Lamar did.
“They tried to paint him as some guy who was just there at the right time and the right place, and they already had the idea,” Lamar’s lawyer Brian Melton told Billboard following the conclusion of the case. “I don't think that was it at all and I think we proved just the opposite: That before they met Lamar, they hadn't thought about this and he gave it to them on a silver platter.”
Beats later became a music streaming service in addition to a headphone company, and was bought by Apple Music in a $3 billion deal in 2014. Their story is told in the current Netflix series ‘The Defiant Ones’.
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