Legal battles between companies are destined to either play out in a settlement very quickly as each side comes to terms with the expense and ultimate lose-lose nature of a drawn out fight; or they go barreling down a path that costs everybody in the long run. The rumble between Sonos and Google looked like it may simmer down, but a new lawsuit filed by Sonos this week may push the situation to the boiling point.
The situation first came to light nine months ago when Sonos filed its original suit against Google. In this original case, Sonos accused Google of stealing intellectual property during a collaboration between the two that brought native support for Google Play Music to Sonos's line of speakers. At the time, Sonos claimed that Google had infringed on 100 separate patents. In response, Google countersued Sonos using a matching number of patents from its own portfolio and gave a story of mutual development efforts that would suggest both companies shared in the production of the technologies.
The new lawsuit, filed on September 29th, introduces five additional claims of infringement, likely part of the original 100 patents Sonos accused Google of violating. The filing does not include a calculation of damages, but does request enhanced damages for each of the five claims — meaning the court could reward Sonos up to three times the amount of the determined value of the infringement if Google is found to be intentionally and egregiously violating those patents. Sonos is also calling for an injunction against the sales of virtually all current Google-made hardware products, including Pixel phones, all of the speakers, and even targets tablets and laptops like the Pixel Slate and Pixelbooks.
These are the patents cited in Sonos's latest filing:
- Networked Music Playback
- Systems and Methods for Networked Music Playback
- Method and Apparatus for Updating Zone Configurations in a Multi-Zone System
- Zone Scene Management
- Audio Settings Based on Environment
The timing of the lawsuit is not a coincidence, Sonos chose to fire this latest shot just one day ahead of the announcement of a new Google-made smart speaker. In a quote from Sonos:
“This lawsuit illustrates the depth and breadth of our intellectual property as well as our continued innovation, and indicates the degree to which we believe Google has copied our innovations,” said a Sonos spokesperson. “Google has chosen to double down on its disregard for IP and smaller American inventors and we believe it is vitally important that Sonos, both for its own sake and for that of other smaller innovative companies, stand up to monopolists who try to copy and subsidize their way to further domination.”
Sonos filed the case in the Western District of Texas and is asking for a jury trial. As usual, we'll keep our eye on this for any follow-ups.
- Legal filing