Google Loses First Round In Patent Fight With Sonos
Sonos has won a first round bout against Google with a US Judge ruling in a one-page statement, that the big search Company infringed on five Sonos patents, a move that could see Google voice activated speakers banned from certain markets.
The alternative to the ban is that Google could end up settling paying a large lump fee and an ongoing licence fee to the sound Company who we revealed last week is now having a crack at developing their own voice activated speaker that will compete head on with Google.
Sonos shares rose 5% on the news.
U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Charles Bullock announced his findings in a one-paragraph notice on the agency’s website.
The judge’s full decision won’t be available until both sides get a chance to redact confidential information.
Google is tipped to lodge an appeal if the case goes against them.
The judge’s findings are subject to review by the full commission, which is scheduled to issue a final decision by Dec. 13 and has the power to block imports of a wide range of Google products, including the Home and Chromecast systems, and Pixel phones and Chromebooks.
Google said it’s confident it will ultimately prevail.
“We do not use Sonos’ technology, and we compete on the quality of our products and the merits of our ideas,” said José Castañeda, a Google spokesman.
“We disagree with this preliminary ruling and will continue to make our case in the upcoming review process.”
Long term there are still doubts as to Sonos’ ability to enforce its intellectual property, protect its market from competitors and develop a new revenue stream in licensing.
Sonos and Google have traded patent-infringement allegations in the U.S. and Europe and Bullock’s findings were the first major test of Sonos’s case.
Sonos claims that Google ripped off their patents and designs back in 2015 and 2014, when the two were working together on ways to integrate Google Play Music into Sonos’ products.
Google denied infringing the patents and said they covered old ideas.
“We are pleased the ITC has confirmed Google’s blatant infringement of Sonos’ patented inventions,” Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus said in a statement.
“This decision re-affirms the strength and breadth of our portfolio, marking a promising milestone in our long-term pursuit to defend our innovation against misappropriation by Big Tech monopolies.”
Observers as well as Google engineers claim that the search Company who dominate the Australian voice activation market can “easily” make software changes to avoid the patents they asked the judge to reconsider the redesigns put before the court.
A victory on that issue would blunt the impact of any import ban imposed by the commission.
The judge’s notice gave no indication either way on the redesigns.
Sonos wants imports halted at borders and an order preventing sales of any Google products already brought into the U.S.