Sonos Sues Google for Stealing its Smart Speaker Tech

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Sonos has filed two lawsuits against Google for stealing its smart speaker multiroom technology and infringing on its patents. The latter got access to the technology after a partnership between the two in 2013.

Sonos alleges that Google then went on to use the same technology in its Chromecast Audio, Google Home smart speakers, and Pixel products. The internet giant also sold its products at subsidized rates to undercut the competition, gain more customers and collect data from them which was later used for targeted advertising.

In its lawsuit, Sonos claims that Google has infringed five of its patents. The company is seeking financial damages along with a ban on all Google products sold in the United States using the technology. While Sonos has sued Google over only five patents, it believes that the company has infringed on 100 of its patents. Google is not the only one that has taken advantage of Sonos tech though. Amazon has also infringed on Sonos’ tech, though the company has only sued Google as it cannot battle two tech giants at once.

“Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology,” Mr. Spence said in a statement. “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.”

Sonos used a packet sniffing technique to discover that Google’s smart speakers were using the same technology as it for solving a number of issues related to multi-room audio. The company let Google know about this in 2016 itself, though the latter had no response to it. Over the next three years, Sonos again told Google about this issue four more times. Google responded by saying that Sonos was also infringing on its patents but never got around to providing more details about it.

When Sonos delivered a proposed model for Google to pay licensing fees, Google returned its own model that resulted in its paying almost nothing, Sonos executives said.

The lawsuit from Sonos is definitely going to complicate the relationship between all the companies involved. Sonos speakers require Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration as otherwise, their feature set would become quite limited compared to other smart speakers. In terms of sound quality though, Sonos speakers sit right there at the top.

Coincidentally, as reported by 9to5Mac, Apple has started selling the Sonos SL Wireless Speaker through its Apple Stores on the same day as the lawsuit. The speaker does not feature Assistant or Alexa integration but has AiPlay 2 support.

[Via The New York Times]