Sonos filed a lawsuit over claims that Google stole its multiroom speaker technology during its 2013 partnership with the company in which both agreed to work together in order to bring Google Play Music to Sonos devices. Apparently, Google then went on to create Chromecast audio, and later it’s extremely popular Google Home as a result – both of which went to market and may have severely undercut the audio experts.
Now, a court ruling has handed Google a preliminary injunction which states that it can no longer sell its speakers or Chromecast devices in Germany, and may also no longer be able to provide Youtube Music to users living there either. It should be noted that a preliminary injunction has an opportunity to be appealed, and Google will likely do just that.
Sonos states that Google violated one of its patents by “blatantly infringing” on its intellectual property. According to the original lawsuit from January of last year, which covered five patents on the Sonos wireless speaker design, Google sold its own products at a cheaper price and used them to gain more user data.
“We’re grateful the court has acknowledged Google’s blatant infringement of Sonos’ IP,” said Sonos Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus in an emailed statement. “This decision marks a promising milestone in our ongoing effort to defend our innovations and stand up to the unfair practices of Big Tech.”Protocol
Sonos then mentioned how Google was an important partner whith whom they have successfully collaborated with over the years, including when they worked together to bring Google Assistant to Sonos in 2019. In speaking with The Verge, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said that “Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology in creating its audio products. Despite our repeated and extensive efforts over the last few years, Google has not shown any willingness to work with us on a mutually beneficial solution.”
Shortly after Sonos sued Google, the tech giant counter sued Sonos and wrote that “While Google rarely sues other companies for patent infringement, it must assert its intellectual property rights here.” Google says that it had a big role to play in bringing its services to Sonos speakers and that its effort involved substantial engineering resources, including significant months of employee work time.
We are disappointed that Sonos has made false claims about our work together and technology. We are reluctantly defending ourselves by asserting our patent rights. While we look to resolve our dispute, we will continue to ensure our shared customers have the best experience using our products.Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson to The Verge
If true, this is disappointing. Though I love what Google has created and have respect for their desire to change the world for the better (yes, while making a profit), it’s no surprise to me when I hear of corporate espionage, stealing of secrets and information, and companies copying one another’s innovations. On the flip side, Google swears up and down that it’s innocent, and it’s possible that there was a misunderstanding in the communications between the two companies. Either way, the more corporations learn to play nice and put everything on paper so there is less confusion, the more the consumer benefits, and the less we have to hear the squabbling back and forth.