Google Sues Sonos Over Voice Assistant Patents
Google continued its legal battle with Sonos in a new lawsuit on Monday, claiming Sonos’ new voice assistant infringes on seven Google Assistant patents. The Sonos Voice dispute continues a courtroom fight from the beginning of 2020 that’s only grown in complexity as suits and counter-suits have piled up from both Google and Sonos.
Sonos Voice AI
Sonos Voice enables voice commands on devices running Sonos’ audio platform. The native voice assistant handles media controls, shifts audio between devices, and connects with several major audio streaming services, albeit not Spotify and YouTube Music. According to Google, the voice assistant relies on patents owned by its parent company, Alphabet, for voice AI interactions and energy efficency for always-on devices. The lawsuit describes how Sonos engineers used Google Assistant software when the two companies were partnered on projects like adding voice recognition to Sonos devices and then applied those patented technologies to build Sonos Voice.
“We prefer innovation to litigation but their actions leave us no choice but to defend our technology and challenge Sonos’s clear, continued infringement of our patents,” Google said in a statement.
The newest lawsuit comes a few months after Sonos scored a significant victory with the U.S. International Trade Commission ruling in its favor that Google infringed on five Sonos patents and has to adjust its products. Google had to remove features like the ability to change the volume of multiple speakers at once by voice command. The decision and the downgrades didn’t resolve the suits, counter-suits, and follow-up lawsuits, even before the latest complaint. Google scored its own victory last week when a judge canceled a Sonos patent for moving a queue of songs between devices. Google has said it will bring the latest complaint to the ITC as well. And Sonos has made it clear it’s ready for a long fight.
The latest lawsuits are an “intimidation tactic designed to retaliate against Sonos for speaking out against Google’s monopolistic practices, avoid paying Sonos a fair royalty for the roughly 200 patents it is currently infringing, and grind down a smaller competitor,” Sonos chief legal officer Eddie Lazarus said in a statement.