Sonos holds patents for multi-room speaker features
Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said Google has shown no willingness to resolve the issue amicably “despite repeated extensive efforts in recent years. Spence also pointed out that there is otherwise a good working relationship with Google – for example, Google’s Language Assistant has been available on Sonos speakers since last year.
In addition to the lawsuit that Sonos filed in a California district court, the company also complained to the US International Trade Commission about the actions of Google and Amazon. The aim of the lawsuit and complaint is likely to be to obtain a ban on the sale of the devices in question against Google. The patents Sonos is referring to seem to describe how a multi-room speaker works. Such speakers play music synchronously in several rooms and also respond synchronously to changes in volume. Since the launch of Google Home, such a feature has been available for most Google Assistant speakers.
Sonos claims to have alerted Google to the patent infringement in 2016, right after the launch of Google Home. After the launch of Home Max and Home Mini, Sonos has again drawn attention to the patent infringement. Sonos also claims to have been working with Google since 2013 to integrate Google’s music service into Sonos devices. As part of this collaboration, documents describing how the devices in question work have been provided to Google. Two years later, Google is said to have launched the first multi-room speaker. Google denies the allegations, but has confirmed that discussions have been ongoing for several years.
Also Amazon is said to have used patents without permission
In addition to Google, Sonos also accuses Amazon of having used its own patents without permission. However, the company has not yet filed a lawsuit – presumably because the effort of two major lawsuits at the same time is being shunned.
The lawsuit also revealed that Google and Amazon may have in the past forced Sonos to prevent the two companies’ speech assistance systems from operating in parallel on Sonos devices. Google may have threatened to disable its own speech assistant on Sonos devices if Sonos allowed Alexa to run concurrently.
It remains to be seen how the matter progresses.