Sonos Sues Google for Infringing on its Audio Technology

On January 7, smart speaker manufacturer Sonos filed a complaint against Google (Sonos v. Google 2:20-cv-00169) in the California Central District Court for patent infringement. Sonos alleged that Google purposefully infringed upon its web-connected speakers designs. Sonos is represented by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

The patents-in-suit are registered United States Patent Nos. 8,588,949; 9,195,258; 9,219,959; 10,209,953; and 10,439,896

Sonos has claimed “a pioneering role in establishing technology in the early 2000s that allows multiple wireless speakers to collectively stream sounds seamlessly.” Previously, “multiple passive speakers were connected by wires to a central receiver that distributed sound.” The companies worked together in 2013 on music streaming plans to have Google Play Music compatible with Sonos’ platform for its wireless speakers. In 2015, Google created its own wireless speaker, Chromecast Audio, which directly infringed upon Sonos’ patents.

The complaint stated, “[s]ince 2015, Google’s misappropriation of Sonos’s patented technology has only proliferated, as Google has expanded its wireless multi-room audio system to more than a dozen different infringing products, including, for example, the Google Home Mini, Google Home, Google Home Max, and Pixel phones, tablets, and laptops.” The introduction of the Google Home app and Google Home Max was viewed as a direct hit to Sonos. The complaint stated “[t]his patented technology includes, for example, Sonos’s patented technology for setting up a playback device on a wireless local area network, adjusting group volume of playback devices, and synchronizing playback of audio within groups of playback devices.” These are only some examples of the ways that Google has allegedly infringed Sonos’ patents.

Despite Sonos’ notifications and warnings to Google about its infringement, Google “has only ramped up production pf its wireless speakers and flooded the market with its products.” Sonos was disappointed at Google’s unwillingness to cooperate and its knowing and willful patent infringement.

“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,” Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos said. “We’re left with no choice but to litigate in the interest of protecting our inventions, our customers, and the spirit of innovation that’s defined Sonos from the beginning.”

“Over the years, we have had numerous ongoing conversations with Sonos about both companies’ IP rights and we are disappointed that Sonos brought these lawsuits instead of continuing negotiations in good faith,” a spokesperson for Google said. “We dispute these claims and will defend them vigorously.”

Sonos has sought compensation for damages and an injunction.