Sonos Sues Google Again Over More Smart Speaker Patents
Sonos is filing a second lawsuit against Google for patent infringement, nine months after first claiming in court that Google used its intellectual property without permission to build its smart speakers and other products. The new lawsuit adds another five Sonos patents to the list, zeroing in on the Google Chromecast Audio and its support for multiroom operations. Sonos’ latest legal maneuver also serves to push back against Google’s countersuit, filed in June, accusing Sonos of using Google patents without permission.
All five patents in the new lawsuit provide the foundation for controlling smart speakers, while the January lawsuit hit on broader wireless audio technology. But, while the patents are newer, the basic argument made by Sonos is the same. Sonos claims that Google’s smart speakers and related products are based on blueprints it shared with Google in 2013 when the companies were working on bringing Google Play Music to Sonos speakers. In particular, Sonos claimed that the ability to sync across multiple rooms in Google’s Chromecast Audio speaker, launched in 2015, was taken from the shared documentation. If the Chromecast Audio doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because it was discontinued by Google in early 2019. Still, the features incorporated into the Chromecast Audio have persisted into other Google products, including the latest Nest smart speakers and smart displays. Notably, the lawsuit arrives right before Google announces new hardware at an event his week. Sonos doesn’t mention the even, but it undoubtedly helps shine a spotlight on the complaint.
“Google has chosen to double down on its disregard for IP and smaller American inventors, and we believe it is vitally important that Sonos, both for its own sake and for that of other smaller innovative companies, stand up to monopolists who try to copy and subsidize their way to further domination,” Sonos said in a statement.
The new lawsuit comes just a few months after Google filed its countersuit, claims that Sonos was the one using Google technology without permission. Google said Sonos is using five of its patents without a licensing deal, including DRM, content notification, content notification, mesh networking, and personalized search features. Sonos then hit back with a counterfiling that Google was using its size and power to retaliateThe counterclaim asserts that Google is only going after Sonos because of the first lawsuit. Sonos has alleged that Google using its patents without permission is just one example of big tech companies bullying smaller firms. Sonos CEO Patrick Spence even testified to the House Antitrust Subcommittee that Google, Amazon, and other pillars of the tech world force smaller companies to limit their potential competition and prevent them from complaining about it. Were it not so risky, SPence said SOnos would sue Amazon for similar misdeeds at the same time. Lawsuits have had a minimal impact so far on actual consumers. Despite the lawsuits, Sonos speakers added the ability to become Google Assistant default players earlier this year. And the legal sparring hasn’t limited any other partnerships between the two companies. The strange dynamic might change with Sonos’ newly aggressive move, but any technical divorce of the two companies and their products is just thoretical for now.
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