Google has just been fined $32.5 million for infringing a Sonos patent. According law360A California federal jury ordered the fine after finding Google infringed a Sonos patent related to grouping speakers together so they can play audio at the same time, something the company has been doing for years.
US District Judge William Alsup had already found that earlier versions of products like Chromecast Audio and Google Home infringed Sonos’s patent; the question was whether the latest refurbished products also infringed the patent. The jury found in favor of Sonos, but decided that a second patent, one that relates to device control via 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 violations that Sonos originally sued for.
Google provided Engadget with the following statement: “This is a limited dispute about some very specific features that are not commonly used. Of the six patents Sonos originally asserted, only one was found to be infringed and the rest were dismissed as invalid or No”. infringed. We have always independently developed technology and competed on the merit of our ideas. We are considering our next steps.”
Today’s findings feel like a victory for Sonos, who originally filed a lawsuit against Google in January 2020. Specifically, Sonos claimed that Google gained knowledge of the patent through a prior collaboration between the two companies, when they collaborated to enable the integration. between Sonos speakers and Google Play Music.
Google has since countersued Sonos, claiming that Sonos had in fact infringed on its own patents on smart speakers. As with any good legal battle, Sonos expanded its own lawsuit a few months later. Most recently, Google sued Sonos in 2022, saying its new voice assistant infringed seven Google Assistant-related patents.
Whether today’s decision will delay the legal battle between the two companies remains to be seen, although we expect the disputes to continue at full speed in the coming months. There are many lawsuits between the companies that have not yet been resolved, and we expect Google to appeal this decision as well. We’ve reached out to Sonos and Google and will update this story with anything we hear.
Update, May 26, 2023, 5:30 pm ET: Added a statement from Google.
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