Sonos’ accusations that Google infringed on its speaker and cast patents were upheld by the US International Trade Commission. It made its first judgement in August, and today finalizes it, prohibiting Google from importing devices that have been proven to have infringed on Sonos’ intellectual property. Because Google produces its products in China, it will be unable to send them to the United States after the import restriction takes effect in 60 days.
In 2020, Sonos sued Google over five patents, one of which describes a method that allows wireless speakers to sync with one another. Google’s Home smart speakers, Pixel phones and PCs, and Chromecast gadgets are all impacted, according to The New York Times. Despite the fact that Google is facing an import restriction, a spokeswoman for the company stated that the verdict will not affect its capacity to import and sell smartphones.
“While we disagree with today’s judgement, we welcome the International Trade Commission’s approval of our amended designs,” a spokeswoman for the company told Protocol. “We will seek more review and continue to defend ourselves against Sonos’ baseless assertions concerning our collaboration and intellectual property,” said the company. In its final ruling, the commission did not object to those alternate designs, indicating that Google is free to use them.
In reality, the Nest team recently revealed certain adjustments to speaker groups, citing “new legal rulings” as the reason. The most significant change is that users will no longer be able to alter the volume of all speakers in a group at the same time in the future. Instead, they’d have to adjust each speaker separately.
“Google will be able to degrade or delete product features in a way that circumvents the importation prohibition that the ITC has imposed,” Sonos Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus stated in a statement. He did, however, say that Google’s devices will continue to “infringe many dozens of Sonos patents” until it pays Sonos fees for its innovations.
His whole statement reads:
“We appreciate that the ITC has definitively validated the five Sonos patents at issue in this case and ruled unequivocally that Google infringes all five. That is an across the board win that is surpassingly rare in patent cases and underscores the strength of Sonos’s extensive patent portfolio and the hollowness of Google’s denials of copying. These Sonos patents cover Sonos’ groundbreaking invention of extremely popular home audio features, including the set up for controlling home audio systems, the synchronization of multiple speakers, the independent volume control of different speakers, and the stereo pairing of speakers.
There is a possibility that Google will be able to degrade or eliminate product features in a way that circumvents the importation ban that the ITC has imposed. But while Google may sacrifice consumer experience in an attempt to circumvent this importation ban, its products will still infringe many dozens of Sonos patents, its wrongdoing will persist, and the damages owed Sonos will continue to accrue. Alternatively, Google can —as other companies have already done — pay a fair royalty for the technologies it has misappropriated.”