Google fined $32.5 million for infringing Sonos patent

Google has just been hit with a $32.5 million fine for infringing on a patent held by Sonos. According Law360A California federal jury ordered the fine after determining that Google infringed a patent held by Sonos regarding the grouping of speakers so they can play audio at the same time, something the company has been doing for years .

U.S. District Judge William Alsup had previously determined that early versions of products like Chromecast Audio and Google Home infringed Sonos’ patent; the question was whether newer and redesigned products also infringed the patent. The jury found in favor of Sonos, but ruled that a second patent – one relating to controlling devices via a smartphone or other device – was not infringed. They said Sonos has not convincingly shown that the Google Home app infringes that particular patent. This follows the dismissal of four other patent infringements that Sonos originally sued.

Google provided Engadget with the following statement: “This is a narrow dispute over some very specific features that are not commonly used. Of the six patents originally claimed by Sonos, only one was infringed and the others were rejected as invalid or not. We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merits of our ideas. We are considering our next steps.

Sonos provided Engadget with the following statement: “We deeply appreciate the jury’s time and diligence in maintaining the validity of our patents and recognizing the value of Sonos’ invention of the Zone Scenes. This verdict reaffirms that Google is a serial infringer of our patent portfolio, as previously ruled by the International Trade Commission regarding five other Sonos patents.In total, we believe Google is infringing more than 200 Sonos patents and the award of damages of today, based on an important part of our portfolio, demonstrates the exceptional value of our intellectual property.Our goal remains that Google pays us a fair royalty for the Sonos inventions that it has appropriated.

Today’s findings look like a victory for Sonos, which originally filed a lawsuit against Google in January 2020. Specifically, Sonos claimed that Google learned of the patent through an earlier collaboration between the two companies, at the origin of their collaboration to enable integration. between Sonos speakers and Google Play Music.

Google has since countersued Sonos, claiming Sonos actually infringed its own smart speaker patents. As with any good legal battle, Sonos then extended its own lawsuit a few months later. More recently, Google sued Sonos in 2022, claiming its new voice assistant infringed on seven Google Assistant patents.

Whether today’s decision will slow down the legal battle between the two companies remains to be seen, although we expect the feuds to continue full steam ahead in the months ahead. There are numerous lawsuits between the companies that are still unresolved, and we expect Google to appeal this decision as well.

Update, May 26, 2023, 5:30 p.m. ET: Added statement from Google.

Update, May 26, 2023, 8:00 p.m. ET: Added statement from Sonos.

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