Google Infringed On Multiple Sonos Patents, U.S. International Trade Commission Rules

Sonos raises prices
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Sonos raises prices
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Photo Credit: Jako Janse van Rensburg

Back in August, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued an initial ruling against Google in the tech giant’s patent-infringement dispute with Sonos. Now, the ITC has affirmed the decision, levied a penalty against the YouTube parent company, and terminated the investigation.

The underlying legal battle initiated in January of 2020, when Sonos formally accused Google of infringing upon five patents involving smart-speaker technology. And as part of the firmly worded complaints – Sonos filed two separate lawsuits – the 20-year-old audio company asked the ITC to bar Google from selling laptops, phones, and smart speakers alike in the United States.

Google and Sonos had partnered in 2013 to bring Google Play Music support to the latter entity’s products. And Google, the patent-infringement actions claimed, had used proprietary information obtained through this partnership to lift Sonos’ multi-room speaker technology, purportedly violating a grand total of some 100 patents in the process.

But as mentioned at the outset, the ITC has now issued a final determination in the high-stakes courtroom confrontation.

At the beginning of the corresponding order, the 106-year-old government agency discloses that Google has “violated section 337” of 1930’s Tariff Act “by importing, selling for importation, or selling in the United States after importation certain audio players and controllers, components thereof, and products containing the same that infringe one or more claims” in the five Sonos patents at the center of the cases.

These infringed patents are numbered 9,195,258, 10,209,953, 9,219,959, 8,588,949, and 10,439,896, and the ITC “determined that the appropriate remedies are a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order against Google.” Additionally, officials “set a bond in the amount of 100 percent of the entered value” for the infringing products that Google imported during the presidential-review period.

The ITC’s limited exclusion order against Google, for its part, prohibits the Mountain View, California-headquartered company from importing further products and components that infringe upon one or more of the Sonos patents in question – including smart speakers and several other devices.

Notwithstanding this penalty, the stock price of Google’s Alphabet parent company (NASDAQ: GOOGL) was down just slightly during today’s trading hours, for a per-share value of $2,740.09. The figure marks a nearly six percent decline since 2022’s start but an almost 52 percent hike since early 2021.

Meanwhile, Sonos stock (NASDAQ: SONO), which jumped after the ITC issued an initial ruling against Google last year, was nearly flat from its previous close, at $28.61 per share. The value represents a roughly five percent dip from 2022’s beginning but a 17.5 percent boost from early 2021.