Google and Sonos Continue to Spar Over Rights to Sound Technology in Two Patent Suits

In a pair of complaints (case numbers 3-22-cv-04552 and 3-22-cv-04553) filed on Monday, Google said Sonos is actively infringing its intellectual property related to voice assistant technology that improves the ease and use of smart home devices. The pleadings accuse Sonos of making use of the technology knowing that its conduct infringes claims of the seven asserted patents.

The suits are the latest in an ongoing intellectual property spat between Sonos and Google. Last week, the same court, the Northern District of California, found a Sonos multi-room “smart” speaker technology patent invalid for obviousness. In a related case decided in late July, the court upheld the validity of a Sonos patent and found that Google infringed one of its claims.

According to this week’s complaints, the companies have worked together since 2013 to integrate Google’s Play Music service into Sonos’s products. In the process, Google reportedly provided assistance on multiple occasions, supplying Sonos with “significant engineering resources, technical support, and other resources.”

The filings said that though Google is proud of its multi-year collaboration with Sonos, the defendant has “made false claims about the companies’ shared work and Google’s technology in the lawsuits that Sonos filed against Google.” The plaintiff added that though it rarely sues for patent infringement, this time it felt compelled to do so.

According to the second-filed complaint, Sonos’ recently-introduced Voice Control feature “coordinate[s] among voice-controlled devices and commission[s] devices onto a wireless local area network, using technologies invented by Google.” The infringing technology is employed by a number of Sonos products including the Sonos One, Sonos One SL, and Sonos Move, the filing said.

Google argued that its innovations are “fundamental to the ability of Sonos’s products to work together as user-friendly smart devices,” and that Sonos knows this, acknowledging that the “real magic” of its products is in the software, not the “look and sound” of its speakers.

Google is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.