Sonos has won an initial ruling in a lawsuit it filed against Google on the grounds of patent infringement. The smart speaker maker is asking the court to award financial damages. It is also calling for a ban on the sales of Google’s smart speakers and other hardware in the US. An administrative judge overruled Google’s objections to the case and cleared the lawsuit to proceed.
In 2013, Sonos willingly gave Google access to its patented smart speaker technology. This was as part of a project to make Sonos’s smart speakers compatible with Google’s Play Music service. But when the project ended, Google allegedly used Sonos’s technology to build its own line of smart speakers and Pixel smartphones.
Seven years later, Sonos formally accused Google of copying its smart speaker technology. “Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology. Despite our repeated and extensive efforts over the last few years, Google has not shown any willingness to work with us on a mutually beneficial solution. We’re left with no choice but to litigate,” CEO of the company, Patrick Spence said at the time of filing the lawsuit.
Sonos’s Lawsuit Against Google
Sonos filed two lawsuits against Google over five alleged patent violations at a federal District Court under the United States International Trade Commission (ITC).
In their defense, Google said: “[our smart speaker] technology was developed independently by Google. It was not copied from Sonos. We dispute these claims and will defend them vigorously.” However, on August 13, a judge ruled that Google had indeed violated all five patents — though this was only a preliminary ruling. The ITC itself will come out with its own judgment on December 13.
All in all, Sonos’s lawsuit against Google is rooted in the growing mistrust of Big Tech among smaller companies. Big Tech has long trampled on smaller players. And now smaller players are fighting back.