Sonos sues Google for alleged theft of speaker technology

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Sonos has filed suit against Google in the United States in federal court and the United States International Trade Commission. According to Sonos, Google has stolen technology from its speakers and used it for its own speakers.

Sonos is not only demanding damages, but also a ban on the sale of Google speakers, smartphones and laptops in the United States, writes The New York Times. The complaint filed with the United States International Trade Commission seeks to block the import of infringing goods.

The issue dates back to 2013, according to Sonos, when it entered into an agreement with Google. Based on that, Google decided to design its music service so that it would work well with Sonos’ speakers. In that context, Sonos actually handed over the blueprints for its speakers to Google, a move the company now describes as “naive”.

According to Sonos, Google has infringed a total of about 100 of its patents, although the audio company is limiting itself in the complaint to five allegedly infringed patents. Underneath is a technology that allows the wireless speakers to connect and synchronize with each other. The latter would have been used by Google for the Home Max to connect these speakers to create stereo sound, Sonos states in one of the charges. The company describes in it how much there are similarities between Sonos products and, for example, the Google Home, Home Mini and Home Max.

The list of products and services that Sonos claims infringes on its patents is quite long and not limited to Google’s smart speakers. Also the Chromecast, Chromecast Audio, Nest Mini and the Nest Hub are mentioned. In addition, Sonos also mentions the Google Play Music app and YouTube Music app, as well as the Google Pixel phones, tablets and laptops. Sonos describes these devices as infringing hardware controller devices. The company states that Google has unjustifiably enriched itself by violating the patents and that it has deliberately done so, which means that Sonos has had to make a significant sacrifice in the smart speaker market.

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence says he tried to work things out with Google, but it didn’t work and he now had no choice but to litigate. Sonos is equally targeting Amazon, but Sonos states that it cannot take the risk of fighting both companies in court at the same time.

A Google spokesperson said his company and Sonos have been discussing the intellectual property of both companies for years and that it is disappointing that a lawsuit is now being filed instead of continuing negotiations. An Amazon spokeswoman said her company did not infringe on any Sonos patents and that the Echo family of products and the multi-room music technology used were developed independently.

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