You may have heard that Sonos and Google are involved in a dispute over patent infringement in the US, with Sonos claiming that the search company used its power to steal intellectual property when they first partnered up. The legal debate isn't limited by borders, though. Sonos also brought Google to court in Germany, where it has managed to enforce a preliminary sales ban of a whole bunch of Google products using the Cast protocol.
As Protocol reports, Sonos got a German court to issue a preliminary injunction against the Irish Google subsidiary for infringing a core Sonos patent. The injunction was already issued in early April, but it hasn't kicked into effect just yet.
Sonos revealed as much in its quarterly earnings calls, saying, "We are pleased to report that a court in Germany has just granted a preliminary injunction against a European Google affiliate for infringing a Sonos patent that enables and controls the transfer of media content from a mobile phone or tablet to one or more playback devices." Once the order takes effect, Sonos expect that it will lead to a sales stop of "such products as the Pixel 4a smartphone, Nest Audio speakers, and the YouTube Music app."
Given that the ruling is so broad, talking about a patent describing the casting process, we would almost assume that even more Google products could end up being banned, like the Pixel 4a 5G, the Pixel 5, and the Nest Hub.
As you would expect, Google disagrees with the decision. A spokesperson told Protocol, "We have appealed and are still awaiting the reasoning for the Court's ruling. And we will continue to work to ensure that our German customers continue to have the best experience using our products."
As to what this ruling means for the US, that's still to be determined. The companies are suing each other in the country in front of the International Trade Commission (ITC), a quasi-judicial federal agency that has the power to grant injunctions and restraining orders. That means we could see a similar outcome here, though both parties have the option to appeal in the Federal Circuit Court. Sonos shared that the decision of the ITC has been postponed to August 13, 2021, so it'll take a while until we know what the quarrel means for US customers.
The companies are additionally fighting against each other in courts in Canada, France, and the Netherlands.