Sonos has taken Google to court, seeking financial damages and a ban on the sale of Google’s speakers, smartphones and laptops in the United States.
At issue is Sonos’s claim that Google infringed up to 100 of their patents on audio streaming, including technology that lets wireless speakers connect and synchronize with one another.
Sonos is suing Google in Federal District Court in Los Angeles and in front of the United States International Trade Commission for infringing 5 specific patents.
Sonos notes in 2013 they handed over detailed diagrams on how its speakers interacted wirelessly with one another to Google when the company agreed to design its music service to work easily with Sonos’s home speakers.
Two years later Google released their Chromecast Audio dongle and a year later their own speaker, the first Google Home.
When Sonos used packet sniffing to monitored how the speakers were communicating they claim they discovered that Google’s devices used Sonos’s approach for solving a variety of technological challenges.
When confronted by this find Google had little response, and even when Sonos gave Sonos a specific list of the 100 patents Google was violating, they merely said Sonos was also violating their patents and offered Sonos a license fee that “paid almost nothing.”
In the meantime Google Home speakers were rapidly undercutting Sonos’s market, being up to 4 times cheaper.
“Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology,” said Patrick Spence, the Sonos chief executive, in a statement. “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. We’re left with no choice but to litigate.”
Sonos also accuses Amazon of violating its patents.
Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said Google and Sonos have discussed both companies’ intellectual property for years, “and we are disappointed that Sonos brought these lawsuits instead of continuing negotiations in good faith. We dispute these claims and will defend them vigorously.”
A spokeswoman for Amazon, Natalie Hereth, said the company did not infringe on Sonos’s technology. “The Echo family of devices and our multi-room music technology were developed independently by Amazon,” she said.