In a preliminary decision, a judge for the US International Trade Commission has ruled that Google infringed on 5 of Sono’s patents. The decision is preliminary and it will be up to the commission to decide whether they want to accept the ruling or reverse it. The commission will make a decision on the 13th of December
More about Sonos and its patents
Sonos is an American-based company, founded in 2002 that specializes in audio products. The company is known for its multi-room speakers. In January and September last year, Sonos sued Google for infringing on its wireless audio patents. The lawsuit filed in January was filed with the California federal court and with the ITC (International Trade Commission). The second suit was filed in September in the western district of Texas. The case filed in California was put on hold while the ITC makes a decision about whether to stop Google from infringing on products from the market. The filing of two lawsuits indicated an aggressive approach from Sonos to police their patents.
Sonos has accused Google of practicing what it refers to as ‘efficient infringement. Sonos has been a long-time critic of big tech companies and their ability to push smaller companies around. According to Sonos big tech companies like Google routinely copy technology because the patents are so low. Large tech companies can afford to sell products at a loss with these patented technologies and flood the market. This gives them a strong market share and the benefits outweigh any potential fines from patent infringement.
Google's response to the accusations
Google has consistently denied the allegations. 6 months after Sonos’s earlier filing in Jan 2020, Google countersued the company. Google alleged that Sonos stole five of its patents related to music libraries, noise cancellation, and wireless connectivity.
Google tried to downplay the judge’s ruling. In a statement, Jose Casteneda, a spokesperson for Google said, “We do not use Sonos' technology, and we compete on the quality of our products and the merits of our ideas. We disagree with this preliminary ruling and will continue to make our case in the upcoming review process."
Currently, Google is under intense scrutiny by the US government into its competitive practices and size. There are several ongoing anti-trust lawsuits that target Google. Google search, its advertising business, and Android are all being investigated for competition fairness.
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Featured image: Sonos