Google/Alphabet has been ordered to pay Sonos $32.5 million for infringing on the company’s smart speaker patent, a jury verdict determined on Friday.
Smart speaker company Sonos has won its ongoing legal battle against Google, with Google now ordered to pay the company $32.5 million for infringing on its critical patent. The feud began in 2020 when Sonos accused Google of copying its patented multiroom audio technology following the companies’ partnership in 2013.
Sonos won its case at the U.S. International Trade Commission, resulting in a limited import ban on some of the Google devices in question. Additionally, Google has had to pull some features from its lineup of smart speakers and displays.
In August, Google sued Sonos over allegations that the audio company infringed on Google’s smart speakers and voice control technology. The most recent trial began earlier this month.
“We are deeply grateful for the jury’s time and diligence in upholding the validity of our patents and recognizing the value of Sonos’ invention of zone scenes,” says Eddie Lazarus, Sonos’ chief legal officer and CFO. “This verdict re-affirms that Google is a serial infringer of our patent portfolio, as the International Trade Commission has already ruled with respect to five other Sonos patents.”
“In all, we believe Google infringes more than 200 Sonos patents, and today’s damages award, based on one important piece of our portfolio, demonstrates the exceptional value of our intellectual property. Our goal remains for Google to pay us a fair royalty for the Sonos inventions it has appropriated,” Lazarus continues.
“This is a narrow dispute about some very specific features that are not commonly used,” says Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels. “Of the six patents Sonos originally asserted, only one was found to be infringed, and the rest were dismissed as invalid or not infringed. We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merits of our ideas. We are considering our next steps.”
Despite Sonos’ patent infringement victory, the jury decided that Google’s Home app did not infringe on a separate patent filed by Sonos. Judge William Alsup also told jurors to “disregard a $90 million damages estimate from a Sonos expert witness, saying he had decided that some of the evidence provided was inadmissible.”
The judge expressed frustration that this case ever went to trial and that the two sides had been unable to settle, calling it “emblematic of the worst of patent litigation.”