Google Ordered to Pay $32.5 Million in Damages to Sonos for Patent Infringement

Google Ordered to Pay $32.5 Million in Damages to Sonos for Patent Infringement

Google has been hit with a $32.5 million penalty by a California federal jury for infringing on a patent held by Sonos, a leading audio technology company. The jury determined that Google had violated Sonos’ patent related to grouping speakers to play audio simultaneously, a feature that Google has been incorporating into its products for years.

US District Judge William Alsup had previously ruled that early versions of Google products like Chromecast Audio and Google Home infringed on Sonos’ patent. The recent trial focused on whether the newer, revamped Google products also violated the patent. The jury sided with Sonos on this matter but concluded that a second patent, which pertains to controlling devices using a smartphone or other device, was not infringed upon. The jury found that Sonos had not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the Google Home app violated that particular patent. This decision comes after four other patent infringement claims filed by Sonos were dismissed.

In response to the verdict, Google provided a statement to Engadget, saying, “This is a narrow dispute about some very specific features that are not commonly used. Of the six patents Sonos originally asserted, only one was found to be infringed, and the rest were dismissed as invalid or not infringed. We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merit of our ideas. We are considering our next steps.”

Sonos also issued a statement to Engadget expressing gratitude for the jury’s decision and emphasizing the importance of its patented technology. The statement read, “We are deeply grateful for the jury’s time and diligence in upholding the validity of our patents and recognizing the value of Sonos’s invention of zone scenes. This verdict re-affirms that Google is a serial infringer of our patent portfolio, as the International Trade Commission has already ruled with respect to five other Sonos patents. In all, we believe Google infringes more than 200 Sonos patents, and today’s damages award, based on one important piece of our portfolio, demonstrates the exceptional value of our intellectual property. Our goal remains for Google to pay us a fair royalty for the Sonos inventions it has appropriated.”

The legal battle between Sonos and Google dates back to January 2020 when Sonos initially filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging that the tech giant had gained knowledge of the patent through prior collaboration between the two companies to integrate Sonos speakers with Google Play Music.

In response, Google counter-sued Sonos, claiming that Sonos had infringed its own patents related to smart speakers. Sonos later expanded its own lawsuit, and in 2022, Google sued Sonos, accusing it of infringing on seven patents related to the Google Assistant.

The outcome of today’s decision is seen as a victory for Sonos. However, the legal battle between the two companies is likely to continue, with unresolved lawsuits and anticipated appeals. The ongoing dispute highlights the contentious nature of intellectual property conflicts in the technology industry.

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