Sonos Patent Battle Ends in Victory Against Google
A lawsuit relating to Sonos patent infringements was filed against Google two years ago. Finally, Sonos has come out on top. But, what does this mean for us?
Sonos, the company responsible for some of the best Bluetooth speakers, sued Google because they felt the Silicone Valley giant stole patented multi-room speaker technology from them. This technology allows multiple speakers throughout a house to communicate with one another, and be connected and controlled via a smart device.
The two companies worked together in 2013, and it is since then that Google is said to have stolen 5 patents. Google then used this information to develop their own products featuring the technology, undercutting Sonos in the process.
Google has used the stolen technology in its now discontinued Chromecast Audio device, as well as in products from the Google Home series. Apparently, Sonos warned Google in 2016 to stop using their patents, to no avail. The same warning was then issued in 2018, following the release of the Home Max and Home Mini. Not long after this, Sonos had accused Google of stealing over 100 of their patents. Speaking to The Verge, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said:
“Google is an important partner with whom we have collaborated successfully for years, including bringing the Google Assistant to the Sonos platform last year. However, Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology in creating its audio products. Despite our repeated and extensive efforts over the last few years, Google has not shown any willingness to work with us on a mutually beneficial solution.”
This particular Sonos patent lawsuit referred to 5 patents. The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled in favour of Sonos for all 5 of them.
What Happens Next?
As a result of the ITC’s ruling, an import ban has been placed on a number of Google products in the US. This includes the Nest, Pixel, and Chromecast.
In response, Google has begun implementing a number of software changes to some of its products. These changes and tweaks have been designed to circumvent any patent infringements. The company believes this will be enough to avoid any impact on its ability to import and sell products.
This ban, issued by the ITC, comes into force after 60 days. It only affects the US, so no changes will be seen unless you are located there. Google has reportedly already come up with workarounds in terms of software updates that will enable the lifting of the import ban. Supposedly, the ITC has already approved these.
Due to this, it’s unlikely we will notice much change at all. The patents related to the adjustment of group speaker volume, as well as overall network control. Google has already brought alternatives for these into effect.
Whilst the impact of the Sonos patent lawsuit might not be visibly huge on a user level, it may affect the pricing of future Google products on a consumer level.