Sonos Loses $32.5 Million Win Against Google As Judge Deems Patents Invalid


A federal judge in California recently threw out a $32.5 million win for Sonos against Google, ruling that two of Sonos’ patents are unenforceable and invalid. As a result, Google has started reintroducing software features it had previously removed due to the ongoing lawsuit.

Key Takeaway

A federal judge has overturned a $32.5 million verdict in favor of Sonos against Google, ruling that two of Sonos’ patents are invalid. The court found that Sonos had wrongly linked its patent applications to an outdated filing and that the technology in question was already being implemented by the industry. Sonos plans to appeal the decision and alleges that Google has infringed on its patent portfolio. Meanwhile, Google is reintroducing software features that were previously removed due to the lawsuit.

Invalid Patents and Wrongful Linking

The decision, made on October 6 by U.S. District Judge William Alsup, reveals that Sonos had wrongly linked its patent applications for multi-room audio technology to a 2006 application in an attempt to make them appear older. Reuters was the first to report on the judge’s ruling. The court stated, “Sonos filed the provisional application from which the patents in suit claim priority in 2006, but it did not file the applications for these patents and present the asserted claims for examination until 2019. By the time these patents issued in 2019 and 2020, the industry had already marched on and put the claimed invention into practice.”

The judge emphasized that the technology Sonos claimed to have invented was already being implemented by the industry before the company filed its patent applications. In fact, Google had shared plans for a product that utilized the same technology with Sonos as early as 2014, five years before Sonos pursued claims on the invention. This led Judge Alsup to conclude that Sonos was not leading the industry but rather attempting to read fresh claims on a competitor’s products from an outdated application.

Appeal and Allegations of Patent Infringement

Sonos has expressed its dissatisfaction with the ruling, stating that it is “wrong on both the facts and the law.” The company plans to appeal the decision. Furthermore, Sonos maintains that Google is a serial infringer of its patent portfolio, citing a previous ruling by the International Trade Commission regarding five other patents. Sonos seeks to hold Google accountable for misappropriating its patented inventions.

Google Reintroduces Removed Features

In response to the court’s decision, Google has announced that it will bring back software features that were removed as a result of Sonos’ lawsuit. Specifically, Google will allow devices to belong to multiple speaker groups, reversing a change that limited devices to one group at a time. This update will be rolled out across Google devices and the Home App on Android within the next two days and will also be available on the Home App on iOS in the near future.

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