Sonos gets early patent victory against Google smart speakers

Enlarge / Sonos says the Google Residence stole its expertise.

Jeff Dunn

Sonos scored an early victory in its case towards Google Friday, when the US Worldwide Commerce Fee dominated that Google infringed 5 of Sonos’ sensible speaker patents. The ruling is preliminary and topic to a full ITC assessment, nevertheless it might result in a ban on Google sensible audio system.

In January 2020, Sonos introduced a patent infringement case towards Google focusing on Google’s sensible audio system, the Google Residence, and later the Nest Audio line. Sonos is the originator of Web-connected audio system that simply hook as much as streaming providers, whereas Google audio system mix an analogous function set with voice-activated Google Assistant instructions. To listen to Sonos tell the story, Google obtained a behind-the-scenes have a look at Sonos’ {hardware} in 2013, when Google agreed to construct Google Play Music assist for Sonos audio system. Sonos claims Google used that entry to “blatantly and knowingly” copy Sonos’ audio options for the Google Residence speaker, which launched in 2016.

Nonetheless you wish to measure it, Sonos is a tiny firm in comparison with the tech giants it repeatedly battles. The 19-year-old firm solely has merchandise within the linked speaker market, and it has a $5 billion market cap. Its rivals—Google, Amazon, and Apple—are a few of the world’s greatest firms, every with a market cap above $1.5 trillion. To make issues extra sophisticated for Sonos, the corporate depends on each Google and Amazon to do enterprise in search, promoting, and retail gross sales, and it frightened about retaliation from the 2 giants. Plus, as soon as Amazon and Google entered the market, Sonos was pressured to undertake assist for each voice assistants with the intention to compete. Again in 2020, Sonos stated Amazon additionally appeared to be utilizing its expertise, however it will focus its authorized efforts on Google.

TechCrunch obtained statements from each side of the battle. First up, Sonos Chief Authorized Officer Eddie Lazarus advised the location, “At present the ALJ has discovered all 5 of Sonos’ asserted patents to be legitimate and that Google infringes on all 5 patents. We’re happy the ITC has confirmed Google’s blatant infringement of Sonos’ patented innovations. This choice re-affirms the power and breadth of our portfolio, marking a promising milestone in our long-term pursuit to defend our innovation towards misappropriation by Large Tech monopolies.”

In the meantime, Google stated, “We don’t use Sonos’ expertise, and we compete on the standard of our merchandise and the deserves of our concepts. We disagree with this preliminary ruling and can proceed to make our case within the upcoming assessment course of.”

A closing ruling ought to occur on December 13, and it isn’t simply audio system that might be banned if the 2 firms do not make good. The merchandise that connect with these audio system, like Pixels and Chromecasts, is also shut down.

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