Google Revives Sonos Spat With A New Pair Of Patent Lawsuits

sonos smart speaker
Wireless speaker pioneer Sonos has a tenuous history with Google. The two companies have been embroiled in lawsuits and countersuits over various patents, finally settling the first of these earlier this year in Sonos’ favor. Google is now reopening the conflict with allegations that Sonos has violated several more of Google’s own patents.

Like Sonos, Google argues the infringements arose from the partnership these companies formed in 2013. The companies initially partnered to bring Google’s streaming music service to Sonos’ devices. Sonos’ original 2020 lawsuit accused the technology giant of leveraging this partnership to steal hardware technology from its blueprints in 2013. The US International Trade Commission sided with Sonos in January, which required Google to “dumb down” its smart speakers to the ire of customers.

Google’s two lawsuits cite seven different patent infringements, all of which revolve around the company’s Google Assistant technology. These patents cover concepts including “Hotword Detection On Multiple Devices,” “Method and System for Wireless Charging,” “Device Leadership Negotiation Among Voice Interface Devices,” and “Apparatus and Method for Seamless Commissioning of Wireless Devices.”

The new complaints state that “Sonos is using, without permission, these Google technologies in its products to enable multiple commercially-desirable features.” The filings to on to claim that “Sonos acknowledges that… ‘the real magic is in the software,’ and not in the ‘look and sound’ of its speakers” by citing Sonos’ tech blog. Given this “software ‘magic’ uses patented Google technology,” Google is seeking restitution.

This is not the first time Google has fired back, either. Google has previously countersued in June of 2020. That complaint covered more aspects of the smart speaker experience including mesh networking, echo cancellation, and personalized network search. Sonos returned fire with its own patent lawsuit detailing five additional wireless audio infringements that September, right before Google launched its new Chromecast and Nest smart speaker.

This drawn-out legal battle is sure to leave one big loser – the customer. These cases are usually settled with a loss of functionality for one manufacturer’s product or the other, as we saw in the original case.