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Sonos currently prevails in a lawsuit accusing Google of violating five of its patents. After first suing the tech giant in January 2020, it is—at least for a short moment—taking a sigh of relief to the sweet sound of a US International Trade Commission (ITC) judge agreeing on the alleged infringements.
Eddie Lazarus, chief legal officer of the audio products firm, confirmed with TechCrunch that ITC chief administrative law judge Charles Bullock “found all five of Sonos’ asserted patents to be valid and that Google infringes on all five patents.”
The early ruling “[marks] a promising milestone in our long-term pursuit to defend our innovation against misappropriation by Big Tech monopolies,” continued Lazarus, who also called Google’s smart audio products “blatant infringement.”
Sonos, which pioneered home speakers that can be synced with smartphones to be controlled or to play music wirelessly, is zeroing in on Google’s Nest family, which includes the original Google Home speaker. It believes Amazon also infringes its patents, but decided to only take legal action on Google because it wasn’t sure if it could sue two tech behemoths at the same time, the New York Times reports.
Further, some Sonos speakers are also integrated with the voice-assisted Google Assistant or Amazon Echo software.
“Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology,” described Sonos CEO Patrick Spence when the company first made its complaint. “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. We’re left with no choice but to litigate.”
Google representative José Castañeda, however, countered Sonos’ claims. “We do not use Sonos’ technology, and we compete on the quality of our products and the merits of our ideas,” he responded in a statement.
Through this lawsuit, Sonos hopes to prevent the import of similar Google smart speakers and related hardware, including the Chromecast and Pixel smartphones. It’s worth noting that, since this is just a preliminary round, the judge’s current decision isn’t the final say, and that a verdict isn’t expected until December 13.
“We disagree with this preliminary ruling and will continue to make our case in the upcoming review process,” said the Google spokesperson.