Google Beaten by Sonos on Patents. Audio company Sonos and Google have been in a battle over patent infringement. After about two years of lawsuits and countersuits and a preliminary ruling in favor of Sonos in the previous year.
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) fortified that it was done by Google, and indeed use Sonos’s patented audio streaming features and has issued an order that will stop all product of google from violating the patents from getting imported and sold in the United States.
The devices that were hit by this order did not only include Google’s Nest Home smart speakers and Chromecast devices, but google pixel smartphones and Chromebook, and a ban on all these products could be a major blow to Google’s tech giant.
Google Allegedly Opposed to Concurrency
This conflict officially started when Sonos decided to Sue Google in January 2020 claiming that the tech giant infringed upon at least 100 patents that are related to a multi-room audio Playback and control. Sonos provided details concerning the technology back in the year 2013 when the two companies were trying their best to work out a deal for Google’s voice assistant to run on Sonos’s smart speakers.
During that time, Sonos was trying to work on an interesting feature called concurrency that would enable a lot of multiple voice assistants including the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to work on Sonos’s speakers. This deal went through because Google did not quite like the idea, the Washington Post reported last year. Aside from that, Google went further to state that it would only introduce its own line of “Home” branded smart speakers, they also allegedly used Sonos’s patents without having to pay a licensing fee.
Google Monopoly Misused
Not just that, Sonos also alleged that google used its monopoly to stop them from launching some of the new products via hurdles including terms of a distribution agreement. Google is not quite known to stop competitors from flourishing in a market segment that they envision making progress in.
Alongside the initial lawsuit from the speaker company, Google countersued Sonos and alleged violation of its patents related to content notifications, DRM, echo cancellation, personalized search, and mesh networking. The along the line again, Sonos sued Google again for infringing five more patents that are related to casting music to a smart speaker from a smartphone and being able to change the music in different rooms.
Degrading experience for Google Nest users
Due to the result that came from the latest ruling by the ITC, Google might actually have disabled some of the features that actually relied on the five-patent highlighted in the ruling. These patented speakers would enable multiple technologies to allow multiple speakers to connect in pairs and work quite well as a stereo setup.
This also would enable the users to control the speaker’s volume directly from their smartphone. Android 12 initially disabled the feature, potentially as a response to a previous Sonos lawsuit. As of last year, Google carried out some rework on some of those features to circumvent charges of patent Infringement but could not escape the ITC’s lens.
At the same time, Google warns of some extra changes to the Google Home app and Nest line of smart speakers and displays. To begin with, users would no longer be able to change the volume of the whole speaker group from the Google Home app and would get to tweak the volume for all the speakers individually. These changes also might break speaker groups that contain smart speakers from other brands like JBL and Lenovo.
Sonos States Google Prefers Legal Battle Over Royalty
One major risk that is right in front of Google, just as stated previously, is the potential ban that was placed on US devices that make use of the patent highlighted in the ITC’s ruling. To stop the ban, google would have to stop the ruling in the top US patent court or request for a presidential review. However, the administration of Biden is expected to block ITC’s ruling within the next 60 days or Google could have to face the repercussions as stated by Bloomberg.