It’s Google’s turn to sue Sonos

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Google has filed two lawsuits against Sonos, accusing the multi-room speaker maker of patent infringement over the technology it uses for voice control and wireless charging.

The new cases were filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The former explicitly addresses how Sonos speakers implement hot word detection and wireless charging, while the latter focuses on the technology Sonos uses to select which speaker from a networked group should respond to a voice command.

In a report for The edge (opens in a new tab), Google has confirmed its immediate intention to file further lawsuits with the United States International Trade Commission to restrict the importation of any Sonos products bearing the alleged infringement. Google, it seems, didn’t come to play.

The filings mark the latest round of contentious legal appointments for the two companies, which have been legally spared since 2020, when Sonos initially sued Google over its multi-room speaker technology.

The basis for this claim concerned an earlier, more innocent time when the two brands collaborated on a project to bring some of Google’s services to Sonos speakers, initially in 2013 to improve the functionality of Google Play Music on the speakers. Sonos speakers and again in 2016 to integrate Google Assistant.

But Google forced itself into Sonos territory when it started producing smart speakers in 2016, and Sonos has since claimed the company misappropriated its intellectual property for use in its own devices, arguing that in order for Google to design its music service compatible with Sonos speakers, it had asked Sonos to hand over the plans to its speakers, which it naively did.

“Google has blatantly and knowingly copied our patented technology,” Sonos Chief Executive Patrick Spence said in 2020. “Despite our repeated and extensive efforts over the past few years, Google has shown no willingness to work with us on a mutually beneficial solution.We have no choice but to take legal action.

Google challenged Sonos’ original infringement case, then fought back, claiming Sonos had appropriated a number of its own patents. Sonos then retaliated with five more violations, and finally, after two years of back and forth, the US Commercial Court ruled that Google was guilty of infringing Sonos’ patents in January of this year. Google has since been forced to change the way users change the volume of its smart speakers in a multi-room setup.

Since that decision, however, Sonos has ventured into Google territory, launching its own voice control system, Sonos Voice Control, which the company says is more secure and private than its competitors – and that seems to be the main cause for concern for the new case.

Regarding his latest trial, Google spokesperson José Castañeda said The edge the lawsuits were filed to “defend our technology and challenge Sonos’ clear and continuing infringement of our patents.” Castañeda also said Sonos had “launched an aggressive and deceptive campaign against our products, at the expense of our mutual customers.”

In response, Sonos Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus said the allegations were merely a “bullying tactic” designed to “retaliate against Sonos for exposing Google’s monopolistic practices” and “crush a smaller competitor”, which he says “will not”. to succeed.”

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