It took them years to build up the courage (and the case) but Sonos is now taking Google to court. They are accusing the tech giant in two courts of copyright infringement on their multi-room speaker tech. The two companies have worked together for five years in creating better integration between Sonos speakers and Google’s music services but eventually, the latter started developing their own hardware and has now undercut the former’s products with cheaper models of their Google Home devices.
A report from The New York Times states that Sonos has filed lawsuits in two courts: the Federal District Court in Los Angeles and at the United States International Trade Commission. They allege that Google infringed on five of their patents, including the technology used for multi-room speakers. They are seeking both financial damages as well as a ban on the sale of Google’s speakers, smartphones, and laptops in the United States.
When they started working with Google back in 2013, they handed over the blueprints to its speakers, thinking that they would only be using it so their music service can work better with their speakers. The allegation is that Google eventually used these blueprints in making their own smart speakers which they eventually released as Google Home devices. While only five patents are highlighted in the lawsuit, they claim that Google infringed on around 100 of their patents.
Sonos is actually accusing Amazon of similar abuses but they have decided to just pursue legal action on Google for now. They could not risk suing both huge companies at the same time since they are a relatively small company. But they are wiling to testify before the US House antitrust subcommittee about the two companies. Both Google and Amazon have unsurprisingly refuted the accusations, with the former saying they will defend themselves vigorously and the latter saying they developed the technology independently.
This is actually a pretty risky move for Sonos as they are still working with both Google and Amazon for integrations with their products. Even before the lawsuits were filed, Sonos says Google has become “more aggressive” with demands on integration. It would be interesting how all this will play out as Google is no stranger to having smaller companies accuse them of unfair practices.