Google triumphant over Sonos in smart speaker patent battle

Google wins patent fight

A federal judge has ruled in favor of Google in the Sonos patent lawsuit, and Google is wasting no time after the win to aggressively roll out features it pulled from the speakers.

Sonos initially sued Google in 2020 accusing the company of infringing on over 200 of the company’s patents. The allegation centered around Google stealing Sonos’ technology for multi-room listening.

The case whittled down to focus on a set of five patents, and Google lost the trial by jury. The case was elevated to federal courts, where Google came out victorious against Sonos.

A blog post from Google General Counsel Halimah DeLaine Prado happily ripped apart the Sonos campaign, reveling in the Google win. Two of Sonos’ patents were rejected as a result of the federal hearing, which renders Sonos’ patent case useless.

Prado shared statements direct from the court, which didn’t pull punches against Sonos.

“This was not a case of an inventor leading the industry to something new,” Judge William Alsup wrote in a statement. “This was a case of the industry leading with something new and, only then, and inventor coming out of the woodwork to say that he had come up with the idea first — wringing fresh claims to read on a competitor’s products from an ancient application.”

The Court basically insinuates that Sonos is no better than a patent troll. It goes on to state how flawed the timeline of Sonos’ accusations are.

“In fact, in 2014, five years before Sonos filed the applications and presented the claims, accused infringer Google LLC shared with Sonos a plan for a product that would practice what would become the claimed invention,” Judge Alsup continued. “Google then began introducing its own products that practiced the invention in 2015. Even so, Sonos waited until 2019 to pursue claims on the invention (and until 2020 to roll out the invention in its own product line).”

Prado’s blog post concludes with an observation that patent trolls waste time and money. She argues that the patent system needs a reform that involves more money and more scrutiny of incoming patents.

Those who own Google products like Google Home or Chromecast should see an update that re-enables the multi-room audio function. The update is rolling out over the next 48 hours to the products, and an update to the Google Home App on iOS is expected soon.


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