In a significant ruling, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) has said that Google violated five patents of high-tech speaker and audio technology company Sonos, relating to smart speakers. A US judge had ruled in August last year that Google infringed upon the Sonos patents. “We appreciate that the ITC has definitively validated the five Sonos patents at issue in this case and ruled unequivocally that Google infringes on all five. That is an across the board win that is surpassingly rare in patent cases and underscores the strength of Sonos’s extensive patent portfolio and the hollowness of Google’s denials of copying," Sonos Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus said in a statement late on Thursday.
In January 2020, Sonos sued tech giant Google for allegedly copying its wireless speaker design, urging the ITC to ban Google products like laptops, phones and speakers. Sonos CEO Patrick Spence testified before the US House antitrust committee that Google “blocked the company from enabling both Amazon’s Alexa assistant and the Google Assistant from being active at the same time". In a statement to The Verge, Google said that “We do not expect any impact to our ability to import or sell our products".
According to Lazarus, the Sonos patents “cover Sonos’ groundbreaking invention of extremely popular home audio features, including the set up for controlling home audio systems, the synchronisation of multiple speakers, the independent volume control of different speakers, and the stereo pairing of speakers" According to Sonos, starting in 2016 shortly after the first Google Home was launched, it began warning Google about patent infringement but to no avail.
Sonos said it accused Google of infringing on a total of 100 patents. Google even countersued audio company Sonos for patent infringement, alleging that the tech giant contributed “substantial Google engineering resources" to help Sonos in the past.
Google has always maintained that its technology was developed independently and it was not copied from Sonos.
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