Google To Face Trial Over Sonos Patents, Judge Rules

The bad blood between Sonos and Google continues, after a US judge issued a mixed ruling for the search engine giant.

Reuters reported that US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ruled that Google must face trial over Sonos patents concerning wireless audio technology.

The judge also failed to invalidate all of the patents before a trial, but the good news for Google was that he did narrow Sonos’ claims against it.

Patent trial

Both Sonos and Google have been locked a number of patent disputes over the past few years.

In January 2022, the US International Trade Commission ruled that Google’s products violate five Sonos patents, upholding an initial decision reached in August 2021.

That ITU import ban against Google saw it removing some features related to the control of multi-room audio playback on its smart speakers.

Google has also sued Sonos for patent infringement at the ITC and in California. The two firms also have a number of other outstanding lawsuits.

Sonos has also accused Google of preventing multiple voice assistants from operating simultaneously on its smart speakers, a claim Google has not denied.

Now this week Judge Alsup has ruled that the trial between the two, slated for 8 May, will go ahead.

Google spokesperson José Castañeda was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement the company appreciated the decision to invalidate one of Sonos’ patents and that Sonos “misrepresented our partnership and mischaracterised our technology.”

A Sonos spokesperson meanwhile was quoted by Reuters as saying that the company looks forward to “once again demonstrating Google’s widespread infringement” at trial.

Invalidated patents

Sonos has alleged that Google stole its technology to use in products like Chromecast Audio and Google Home after working together to integrate Google’s streaming music service into the Sonos ecosystem.

Google has countered that Sonos copied its technology after their collaboration.

However in this case, Sonos accused Google in the San Francisco case of infringing four patents related to multi-room wireless speaker technology. Judge Alsup previously invalidated one of the patents and determined Google infringed another.

Judge Alsup found Thursday that a second Sonos patent was also invalid, Reuters reported.

That said, the judge rejected Google’s request to cancel the remaining two patents before trial. The judge also said Google did not infringe one of the surviving patents willfully, reducing Sonos’ potential damages.

Judge Alsup also reportedly said he would hold a separate bench trial after the jury trial to determine whether Google’s redesigned speakers infringe Sonos’ patents.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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