Audio News Briefs: Niles and Carver

On May 1, Niles Audio Corporation, Inc., manufacturer of audio/video custom installation components, announced that it had "successfully defended its indoor/outdoor speaker line against would-be imitators."

According to Niles, CSI/Speco (Component Specialties, Inc.) of Amityville, New York engaged in selling loudspeakers that were virtually identical to Niles' OS1 and OS5 models. In response, Niles filed a trade-dress infringement lawsuit.

In January, Niles succeeded in obtaining a temporary restraining order prohibiting CSI/Speco from exhibiting the OS lookalikes at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas---or at any other venue. CSI/Speco also was prohibited from advertising, distributing, marketing, or disposing of the infringing speakers.

In March, Niles and CSI/Speco reached a settlement under which the temporary restraining order was replaced by a permanent injunction. Other terms of the settlement include disclosure of the names of those from whom the imitation OS speakers were obtained, and of any other vendors of the Niles lookalikes.

One result of the provisions was the requirement that the entire remaining CSI/Speco stock---some 2600 loudspeakers---be destroyed. A seven-ton tractor was used to crush the imitation speakers.

"Niles closely guards its intellectual property, including its trademarks, service marks, trade dress, copyrights, and patents," said Niles President Ivan Zuckerman.

In other news, a radically reshaped Carver Corp. (see past news items 1 and 2) plans to add direct Internet sales to its marketing strategy. Announced in its recent SEC 10-K report, Carver hopes to reduce its operating costs with the new approach, which will be fully revealed later this month. It is expected that the company will eliminate in-house production of components and reduce its model line for the coming year.