Google Countersues Sonos

Google has countersued Sonos, alleging that the smart speaker maker made false claims against it and stole its intellectual property.

“Sonos is using substantial volumes of Google’s technology, including patented Google innovations in search, software, networking, audio processing, and digital media management and streaming, both in Sonos’ hardware products and in Sonos’ software and service offerings,” the Google counter-suit claims. “Sonos is using, without permission, Google [patented] technologies in Sonos’ products to … allow for easier configuration of and extensions to multi-speaker networks, to facilitate the management and use of multiple music services with Sonos speakers, to permit playing copy-protected digital media, including Sonos’ new Sonos Radio service, and to allow Sonos to use noise suppression and echo cancellation to obtain accurate audio input.”

As you may recall, Sonos sued Google in January, claiming that the search giant is infringing on up to 100 Sonos patents in its smart speaker products. Google’s counter-suit is designed to blunt Sonos’ claims while introducing new claims of its own against Sonos.

Somewhat humorously, Google also alleges that it has “suffered competitive harm, irreparable injury, and damages” because of the tiny speaker maker’s infractions.

The Sonos story is, sorry Google, a bit more believable: After working with Google to integrate Google Play Music into Sonos, the speaker firm balked at Google’s demands that users not be able to access both Google Assistant, the search giant’s digital personal assistant, and Amazon Alexa, the market leader. Google then introduced its own smart speakers using Sonos’ technology and underpriced them to push out Sonos and other competitors.

“Google has not merely copied Sonos’s patented technology, it has also subsidized the prices of its patent-infringing products, including at the entry level, and flooded the market,” the Sonos suit explained.

“We are disappointed that Sonos has made false claims about our work together and technology,” a Google statement reads. “We are reluctantly defending ourselves by asserting our patent rights. While we look to resolve our dispute, we will continue to ensure our shared customers have the best experience using our products.”

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Conversation 3 comments

  • nicholas_kathrein

    Premium Member
    12 June, 2020 - 3:18 pm

    <p>Maybe Sonos did use some of Googles tech. I think this will settle out of court if they did. Sonos will have their people see if maybe Google does have patents around these things and if so they won't go to court. We will see.</p>

  • mattbg

    Premium Member
    12 June, 2020 - 6:52 pm

    <p>I've just ordered my second Sonos device, but honestly I don't see how they survive long term and I am a bit worried about someone like Apple buying them out and killing off the parts that make it a valuable product for me (i.e. a speaker that supports both AirPlay and Spotify Connect – and in the case of Sonos Move, Bluetooth as well). I've literally used the Sonos app once – all other use has been through the other interfaces it offers. It's a great package if you're mostly in the Apple world but not fully.</p><p><br></p><p>It's both great and annoying to see Google pursue audio innovations. Great because innovations are welcome for people that love audio, but annoying because you know their real interest is in shoehorning data collection devices into rooms of houses and that the audio innovations are basically motivate by things other than a passion to build great audio experiences. It's like a guy that takes up flying model aircraft because he likes sniffing jet fuel.</p><p><br></p>

  • red.radar

    Premium Member
    12 June, 2020 - 11:27 pm

    <p>This is pretty standard fair in the patent world. When you know you are going to loose you start stacking your deck of patents against theirs. It’s Mutually assured destruction so that everyone walks away netting nothing. This is why companies amass large libraries of weak patents</p><p><br></p><p>its a hallmark of how the system is messed up and how it benefits the big corps and undermines the startups. </p><p><br></p>


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