Google has been fined $32.5 million for infringing a Sonos patent

Google has just been hit with a $32.5 million penalty for infringing a patent owned by Sonos. according to Law 360a California federal jury ordered the fine after determining that Google violated a Sonos patent related to grouping two speakers so they could play audio at the same time, something the company had been doing for years.

US District Judge William Alsop has already determined that the early release of products like Chromecast Audio and Google Home violated a Sonos patent; The question was whether the latest revamped products infringed the patent. The jury found in favor of Sonos, but decided that a second patent — one relating to hardware control via a smartphone or other device — did not infringe. They said Sonos has not shown convincingly that the Google Home app infringes this patent. This follows the dismissal of four other patent violations that Sonos originally sued.

Google provided Engadget with the following statement: “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. Violating it. We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merits of our ideas. We are studying our next steps.”

Sonos provided Engadget with the following statement: “We are extremely grateful for the jury’s time and diligence in supporting the validity of our patents and recognizing the value of the Sonos invention to area scenes. This ruling reaffirms that Google is a serial infringer of our patent portfolio, as the International Trade Commission has already ruled in connection with With five Sonos patents.Overall, we believe Google is infringing more than 200 Sonos patents and today’s damages award, based on a significant portion of our portfolio, demonstrates the exceptional value of our intellectual property.It remains our goal for Google to pay us fair royalties for the Sonos inventions we make captured it.”

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Our findings today seem like a win for Sonos, which originally sued Google in January of 2020. Specifically, Sonos claimed that Google gained knowledge of the patent through prior collaboration between the two companies, and they returned to Their collaboration to allow integration between Sonos speakers and Google Play Music.

Since then, Google has sued Sonos, claiming that Sonos had in fact infringed on its patents around its smart speakers. As with any good legal battle, Sonos then expanded its own lawsuit a few months later. Recently, Google sued Sonos in 2022, saying its new voice assistant infringes seven patents related to Google Assistant.

It remains to be seen if today’s decision will slow down the legal battle between the two companies, though we expect the spats to continue at full steam in the coming months. There are a lot of lawsuits between the companies that haven’t been resolved yet, and we expect Google to appeal this decision as well.

Update, May 26, 2023, 5:30 PM ET: A statement from Google has been added.

Update, May 26, 2023, 8:00 PM ET: Added a statement from Sonos.

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