Google was recently hit with a $32.5 million penalty for infringing a patent held by Sonos. According to Law360A California federal jury ordered the fine after determining that Google infringed on a patent held by Sonos related to grouping speakers together so they could play audio at the same time, something the company has been doing for years. .
US District Judge William Alsup has already determined that the first version of products such as Chromecast Audio and Google Home infringed on Sonos’ patent; the question is whether newer, modified products also infringe the patent. The jury found in favor of Sonos, but decided a second patent – one related to controlling devices through a smartphone or other device – was not infringed. They said Sonos had not convincingly demonstrated that the Google Home app infringed that particular patent. This follows the dismissal of four other patent infringements originally sued by Sonos.
Google provided Engadget with the following statement: “This is a narrow dispute over some specific features that are not commonly used. Of the six patents originally asserted by Sonos, only one was found that are infringed, and others are dismissed as invalid or not. We are infringing. We always develop technology independently and compete on the merits of our ideas. We are considering our next steps.
Sonos provided Engadget with the following statement: “We are very grateful for the jury’s time and effort in supporting the validity of our patents and recognizing the value of Sonos’ invention in the zone scenes. patent portfolio, as the International Trade Commission has already ruled in relation to five other patents of Sonos. In total, we believe that Google has infringed more than 200 patents of Sonos and the reward today, based on a important piece of our portfolio, reflecting the extraordinary value of our intellectual property. Our goal remains that Google will pay us a fair royalty for the Sonos inventions it allocates.”
Today’s findings are a victory for Sonos, which originally filed a lawsuit against Google in January of 2020. Specifically, Sonos claims that Google acquired the patent knowledge through prior collaboration between In both companies, they cooperated again to allow the merger. between Sonos speakers and Google Play Music.
Since then, Google has counter-sued Sonos, claiming that Sonos actually infringed on its own patents around smart speakers. Like any good legal battle, Sonos expanded its own case a few months ago. Recently, Google sued Sonos in 2022, saying that its new voice assistant infringed on seven patents related to Google Assistant.
Whether today’s decision will slow down the legal battle between the two companies remains to be seen, although we expect the dispute to continue throughout the coming months. There are several lawsuits between the companies that have not yet been resolved, and we expect Google to appeal this decision as well.
Update, May 26th 2023, 5:30PM ET: Added a statement from Google.
Update, May 26th 2023, 8:00PM ET: Added a statement from Sonos.