Google loses $32.5M in patent dispute with Sonos
Google has been directed to compensate Sonos with a sum of $32.5 million following a jury verdict that concluded Google's smart speakers and media players violated one of Sonos' patents. The legal dispute between the two companies emerged in 2020 when Sonos alleged that Google had imitated its patented multiroom audio technology, despite their previous partnership in 2013.
As the case navigated the intricate pathways of the legal system, Sonos achieved a significant victory at the US International Trade Commission, leading to a partial import ban on select Google devices involved in the infringement. Consequently, Google was compelled to remove certain features from its range of smart speakers and smart displays to comply with the legal ramifications.
In a statement to The Verge, Eddie Lazarus, Chief Legal Officer and CFO of Sonos, shared his perspective:
“This verdict re-affirms that Google is a serial infringer of our patent portfolio, as the International Trade Commission has already ruled with respect to five other Sonos patents. In all, we believe Google infringes more than 200 Sonos patents and today’s damages award, based on one important piece of our portfolio, demonstrates the exceptional value of our intellectual property. Our goal remains for Google to pay us a fair royalty for the Sonos inventions it has appropriated.”
“Of the six patents Sonos originally asserted, only one was found to be infringed, and the rest were dismissed as invalid or not infringed. We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merit of our ideas. We are considering our next steps,” Lazarus added.
According to Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda, the case primarily concerns "some very specific features that are not commonly used," and he asserted that Sonos had "mischaracterised our partnership and technology."
While Sonos didn't achieve a complete victory in the case, the jury ruled that Google's Home app did not infringe on a separate patent filed by Sonos.
Judge William Alsup, who has presided over numerous courtroom battles involving tech companies, expressed his disappointment with both parties for failing to reach a settlement prior to the trial. He criticized their approach as "emblematic of the worst of patent litigation." The judge also acknowledged the intricate technical language surrounding the patents in question, even pausing at one point to ensure that jurors remained engaged and attentive, avoiding any signs of drowsiness.
Judge Alsup instructed the jury to disregard a $90 million damages estimate provided by a Sonos expert witness, deeming certain evidence inadmissible.Advertisement