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Sonos Sues Google for Stealing its Speaker Technologies, Accuses Amazon Too

Sonos Sues Google for Stealing its Speaker Technologies, Accuses Amazon Too

Sonos has sued Google in two federal courts, accusing of five patent infringements and seeking damages and a ban on Google speakers.

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Shouvik Das

Audio equipment maker Sonos has sued Google, accusing the tech giant of stealing its audio technology. Sonos filed a patent infringement suit against Google at the Federal District Court of Los Angeles in USA, as well as at the United States International Trade Commission. The suit accuses Google of infringing on five of its patents, as well as stealing additional technologies that enabled multiple wireless speakers to cross connect, as part of Sonos' multi-room wireless speaker network. While the lawsuit has only been filed against Google, Sonos has stated that it holds the same accusations against another Big Tech giant, Amazon. However, it has refrained from suing Amazon because of the company's financial constraints.

According to Sonos, the company shared its speaker blueprints with Google back in 2013, when the latter decided to closely integrate its music streaming service with Sonos' multi-room and home theater speakers. However, Sonos states that since then, Google has used its mighty industry position to misuse Sonos' technology for its own benefit, and actually using it for its own speakers. Back in 2013, Google did not have a hardware business that included speakers as part of its smart home gadget lineup. However, today, Google (as well as Amazon) sells more speakers globally in months than what Sonos does in a full year. The report is a part of a New York Times investigation on this matter.

The present market condition gives the onus to Sonos for pursuing damages to its business from Google, provided that the patent infringement issue is proven in court. Patrick Spence, chief executive of Sonos, told the New York Times that the company has been planning to take action against Google and Amazon for infringing their patents, but refrained from doing so because of their finances. Google and Amazon have both categorically denied Sonos' accusations so far, with Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda stating to NYT, "We are disappointed that Sonos brought these lawsuits instead of continuing negotiations in good faith." Both the companies have claimed that their speakers are built using their own technologies.

The lawsuit will presumably come under considerable scrutiny from antitrust authorities, especially given the present climate of Big Tech companies being under scrutiny for their anti-competitive industry practices, and the way it treats smaller companies that rely on the bigger companies for their own business. Sonos draws search ranking from Google's platform to market its products to customers, and does so on Amazon too. In everyday operations, Sonos executives use Google services such as Gmail, while Amazon's cloud platforms also play a part in how the company works. As a result, Sonos feared that its business would take a bigger hit if they pursued charges against the firms, despite being convinced of the patent infringement.

If proven, Sonos will be the latest company to hit a sucker punch to the likes of Google and Amazon, thereby exposing their antitrust and anti-competitive practices. In USA, law and policymakers have been actively pursuing the Big Tech quartet's business practices, fearing that they have become too big and control far too much for their own good. Apart from patent infringement, the companies are being investigated in terms of their workplace policies, employee treatment, acquisitions, and also how they control their own platforms in terms of maintaining a fair ground for other brands as well.


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