Sonos secures a victory in audio patent fight against Google

The years-long legal drama resulting from a brief fling between Google and smart speaker maker Sonos has resulted in another loss for the Chocolate Factory, which had its claims of copyright infringement tossed out by a US International Trade Commission (ITC) judge Friday.

Google's ITC complaint [PDF] alleging four violated patents was filed in August last year, just one day after it made allegations of the same patent infringements against Sonos in California. The ITC administrative law judge Cameron Elliot said [PDF] Google wasn't able to get around counter-arguments from Sonos' legal team, despite Alphabet's gobs of money buying the finest commercially available jurists.

For the first of the patents, 11,024,311, Google "has proven infringement," of claim 10, except "Sonos has proven the invalidity of claims 10,11,16 and 17," The judge said.

Google also managed to prove Sonos had infringed on claims 1, 5, 6, 9, 16, 17 and 19 of patent 11,050,615, but Sonos was able to prove the invalidity of those patent claims as well. As such, "Google has not proven the existence of articles protected by any claim of [the 615 patent]," the judge said.

As for the third patent it claimed Sonos had infringed, "Google has not proven infringement of any asserted claim," Elliot determined. While he has yet to issue a full decision, he said that the initial determination is that there's nothing in Sonos hardware that's violating a Google patent in any manner that would make importation of products illegal.

"We appreciate and agree with the judge's decision rejecting Google's claims and finding that all of Sonos' accused products are in fact properly imported," said Sonos CFO and general counsel Eddie Lazarus. "This is the fifth jurisdiction (including Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, and France) in which Google has sued Sonos and lost."

Talk about a messy breakup

Like a pair of friends who dated for a month, had a messy split, and can't decide who gets custody of the cactus they bought together, Google and Sonos had a brief fling in 2013 and have been fighting about whose intellectual property is whose ever since.

Their first legal fight came in 2020 when Sonos sued Google for allegedly infringing on some of its sound-sharing patents. "Google is an important partner with whom we have collaborated successfully for years," Sonos CEO Patrick Spence told The Register back then, alleging that Google had been "blatantly" copying Sonos tech for some time.

"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."

Google sued back, naturally, alleging Sonos had infringed on five of its patents, so Sonos filed another lawsuit accusing Google of even more patent infringement.

All of those lawsuits have been on hold until Sonos' complaints to the ITC get resolved. The first decision from this was issued early in 2022 and found Google had infringed on five Sonos patents. Google was forced to make software changes to avoid international import restrictions on several of its smart speakers and smart home devices.

Since the ITC's decision was made the California, trials have resumed, with one case concluding in May and finding Google liable for $32.5 million (£26m) in royalty payments due to Sonos for copyright infringement.

Other lawsuits filed by Google against Sonos in California are ongoing, but appear to be on hold based on pending ITC investigations, one report [PDF] of which is still open, but which is also on hold pending in inter partes review of a similar complaint filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

"As both the ITC and a jury in Northern California have found, Google is wrongfully using Sonos' technology. The time has long since come for Google to stop litigating and start negotiating a fair royalty for the Sonos inventions on which Google's audio products are based," Lazarus told us.

While Sonos was happy to tell us of its victory, Google didn't have much to say. All we got out of it was a brief statement: "We are disappointed with this decision and are reviewing what our next step will be," spokesperson José Castañeda told us.

In other words, don't expect the drama between these two to end anytime soon. This is why lawyers have such lovely summer houses. ®

About Us
Website HardCracked provides softwares, patches, cracks and keygens. If you have software or keygens to share, feel free to submit it to us here. Also you may contact us if you have software that needs to be removed from our website. Thanks for use our service!
IT News
Sep 29
UTM: An Apple hypervisor with some unique extra abilities

Friday FOSS Fest Fancy running Windows, Linux and Classic MacOS on your modern x86-64 or Arm64 Mac? Walk this way

Sep 29
Bringing AI to reality

Sponsored Feature How DeepBrain made the most of Lenovo's AI Innovators Program

Sep 29
CNCF's chief techie talks WebAssembly, AI and licenses

Interview Or how one pesky press release ruined a vacation

Sep 29
Infosys launches aviation cloud it claims can halve lost luggage

Also optimises routes and tames crowds, but can't stop that person who just reclined into your knees

Sep 29
Red Hat bins Bugzilla for RHEL issue tracking, jumps on Jira

Just in time to get Atlassian's latest cross-team collab bits

Sep 29
Medium asks AI bot crawlers: Please, please don't scrape bloggers' musings

OpenAI might respect robots.txt but dunno about the others

Sep 29