Sonos sues Google for infringing 5 more wireless audio patents across Nest, Chromecast products
On the eve before Google’s hardware event, Sonos has filed another patent lawsuit against Google.
In another patent lawsuit filed against Google on the eve of its hardware event, Sonos has alleged that Google is infringing five wireless audio patents across the entire line of Nest and Chromecast products. Google is going to announce its new Chromecast and Nest smart speakers later today alongside the new Pixel phones.
Sonos had first filed a patent lawsuit against Google in January this year in a California federal court and with the International Trade Commission (ITC). The federal case was put on hold while the ITC was to reach a decision on whether to block the Google products allegedly infringing on Sonos’ patents from the market.
The new case Sonos has filed is only in the federal court for the Western District of Texas as “represents a more aggressive approach from Sonos”, reports The Verge.
Sonos’ legal chief Eddie Lazarus said that the company thought it was important to show the “depth and breadth” of Google’s copying and that they had shown Google claim charts on 100 patents that they were allegedly infringing on, “but to no avail”.
Google has said they are going to fight back and has countersued Sonos in the initial case. Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda had said that Sonos has made misleading statements about their history of working together. Castadena added that their technology and devices were designed independent and they vigorously deny Sonos’ claims and will be defending against them.
Sonos has been vocal about the “power of big platform companies like Google to push around smaller companies”. Sonos has, in particular, alleged that Google routinely copies technology since the penalties are so low compared to the benefits of flooding the market with “cheap loss-leader products and gaining market share”.
Sonos CEO Patrick Spence testified to the House antitrust subcommittee earlier this year about “efficient infringement” and the new case they have just filed is a reflection of how strongly they feel it should be curtailed, writes The Verge.
The patents in Sonos’ first lawsuit covered the foundations of wireless audio systems - the setup, playing in sync, creating stereo pairs. Sonos is confident about those patents because they have previously sued Denon for infringing them and has won. For Lazarus, these are “battle-tested”.
The new case patents are more recent although it covers work that was started in 2011 and relates to more modern wireless speaker system features like controlling streaming music “from a secondary device like a phone, automatic speaker EQ and speaker group management and ‘zone scene’ presets”. The Verge reports that many of them seem like patents on the basics of smart speaker controls like setting the volume on a speaker from your phone etc. However, Lazarus says he is not worried about Google challenging them.
“If they seek to challenge the patents on obviousness grounds, we believe we will win,” Lazarus said, adding that they “believe that most people involved in wireless home audio today infringe on our patents in one way or the other”.
Sonos has also presented Amazon with similar patent claims and hopes to resolve them. “We were ahead of our time. These technologies weren’t commonplace when Sonos designed them,” Lazarus said.
Another lawsuit will further strain the relationship between Google and Sonos, which supports the Google Assistant on its speakers, but Sonos says it has tried to keep the legal fight out of product discussions.