Sonos filed a lawsuit against Google for allegedly violating up to 5 patents related to its smart speakers. They say Amazon did the same.
In full celebration of CES 2020, Sonos has demanded Google for allegedly stealing its patented speaker technology and leveraging it on its own equipment. They refer, of course, to the Google Home family of devices. In fact, the sound firm also intends to legally proceed against Amazon for the same case, however, they point out that they cannot afford to fight two giants at the same time.
Sonos reported to The New York Times, the lawsuit involves a total of 5 patents, one of them related to the way the speakers can connect and synchronize with each other. In addition, they have sent an additional request to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to ban sales of laptops (Chromecast), smartphones (Pixel) and Google speakers in the United States.
Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos, mentioned that "Google has blatantly and knowingly copied" its patented technology, adding: "Despite our repeated and extensive efforts in recent years, Google has not shown any willingness to work with us in a mutually beneficial solution. We have no choice but to litigate. "
According to his account of the facts, it all started when they partnered with Google in 2013. In that year, Sonos provided the Mountain View engineers with diagrams that explained how the speakers interact with each other wirelessly. It is important to note that, at the time, Google still did not release any smart sound device.
However, two years later they launched Chromecast Audio, whose purpose was to provide wireless functions to an old speaker. A year later, Google Home arrived on the market, a team that has proved a success in sales. Upon suspicion, Sonos acquired both products to analyze its connection process, finding that Google had followed the steps of Sonos to solve several technological obstacles. The same happened with the Amazon Echo.
Before taking legal action, Sonos contacted Google directly to inform them that they had violated some of their patents. However, those directed by Sundar Pichai showed no interest in solving the situation, since between 2016 and 2019 they were notified of the problem up to 4 times without getting an answer. Finally, Sonos gave Google a list of up to 100 patents that, they believed, had been infringed. Those from Mountain View backed up by claiming that Sonos also violated several of their patents.
While the California company made a payment for the license fees, the figure did not cover the total debt for the use of patents, said the speaker firm. Beyond the claim for patented technology infringement, Sonos says that Amazon and Google have abused their position and influence to harm their smaller competitors.
The position of Google and Amazon
A Google spokesman told The New York Times that they are "disappointed that Sonos has filed these lawsuits instead of continuing negotiations in good faith," and added: "We discuss these claims and we will defend them vigorously." Amazon, meanwhile, made it clear that they have not violated Sonos patents: "The Echo family of devices and our multi-room music technology were independently developed by Amazon."