Speaker specialist Sonos has won a milestone in its patent litigation with Google. A US trade authority ITC judge found that the internet company had infringed five of the hi-fi company’s patents. The ITC can prohibit the importation of goods into the United States for patent infringement. The judge’s preliminary ruling released on Friday has yet to be considered by the full commission. The deadline for a decision is December 13.
In the lawsuit filed in early 2020, Sonos has its sights set on various Google devices such as Pixel-brand smartphones and Nest-brand network speakers. The patents relate to technologies for synchronizing audio playback between several devices, volume control and WiFi connection. Since most devices are made in Asia, an import ban by the ITC would prevent the technology from being sold in the United States. After the Richter decision became known, Sonos stock rose a good 4.6% in after-hours trading on Friday.
At the same time, an import ban can be lifted by the US president – which, however, rarely happens. Two months are allotted for the presidential review – so Christmas business would certainly be safe for Google. The next generation of Google smartphones is expected in the fall with the Pixel 6.
While Sonos has welcomed the judge’s findings, Google opposes it. “We don’t use Sonos technology,” said a Google spokesperson for financial service Bloomberg. Sonos has extended the patent litigation to other countries and obtained a deliberate injunction in Germany against the sale of certain Google devices. The Internet company appealed. In the ITC procedure, Google had stressed that the group had technologies with which the patents cited by Sonos would not be infringed and that the judges had requested an evaluation. At the same time, Google has filed a counterclaim in the United States, also alleging patent infringements.
Sonos is a pioneer of networked speakers and specializes in audio systems for various rooms in a house. The company is also currently trying to expand its business to the automotive market through cooperation with Audi.