ITC to Review Sonos v. Google

Posted on November 20, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Google, Music + Videos, Sonos with 8 Comments

The International Trade Commission said that it would review parts of a judge’s findings in the Sonos patent infringement case against Google. It is doing so at the request of both companies, each of which asked the ITC to review the parts of the judge’s findings that went against them.

As you may recall, the ITC’s chief administrative law judge found in August that all five of the Sonos patents in this case are valid and that Google infringes on all of them with its smart speakers and Chromecast devices. The full Commission had promised to issue a final ruling in this case—which could lead to Google’s infringing products being banned for import into the United States—in December. This additional review will push back the final ruling date to January 6, the ITC said.

“We are pleased that the Commission will be affirming the [judge’s] ruling that all five Sonos patents at issue are valid and that Google infringes all five of those patents,” a Sonos statement notes. “We also look forward to engaging further with the Commission on the details of the remedy to which we are entitled, and pursuing our damages case in District Court.”

The ITC said it will review whether the products accused of infringing two of the patents “infringe at the time of importation.” And it confirmed that an import ban was possible in its final ruling.

“We compete on the quality of our products and the merits of our ideas,” a Google spokesperson said. “We disagreed with the preliminary ruling and will continue to make our case in the review process.”

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “ITC to Review Sonos v. Google”

  1. jimchamplin

    Man, it would be hilarious if the ITC simply said, "You know what? F software patents. You actually have to compete on the quality of your product and services. Good farkin' luck."

    • ringofvoid

      No such chance. Sonos has a legal stranglehold on the concept of having more than one speaker play the same content simultaneously, prior art be damned. We're in for a long series of lawsuits by Sonos keeping that idea secured.

    • jchampeau

      I don't think it would be hilarious at all. If software could no longer be patented, small ISVs and entrepreneurs would surely have their stuff ripped off and go out of business in short order. Civilized societies have rules in place to ensure competition is fair. This is one of the things that separates us from the likes of the Chinese government which has no tort law. There are probably plenty of fellow members here at whose livelihoods would be put in jeopardy, like mine, if what you suggest were to occur.

      • joferm

        There is a big difference between having no patent rights and reasonable rights. I don't know the details of this case but in general there are many patents that should be invalid. Things like a patent on square phone with rounded corners or many speakers playing the same content are obvious nonsense.. unless they are about a specific way to construct the device.

        • jchampeau

          I don't disagree with your statement, but it's separate and apart from the point that I was responding to. Modernizing our patent laws seems like a good idea. Throwing them away, as suggested, does not.

  2. JH_Radio

    So if google gets banned from selling stuff in the US, then what?

    Could they do this a different way without infringing?