Sonos sues Google over alleged patent infringement on smart speaker tech

Following what the company described as years of back-and-forth, Sonos has filed suit against Google for alleged patent infringements related to the company’s smart speakers. Sonos said that Amazon was also infringing on their IP, but that they can only afford to take on one tech titan.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Los Angeles and for the United States International Trade Commission, specifically calls out Google for five alleged patent violations, including technologies that allow their speakers to wirelessly communicate and synchronize with each other. Sonos tells The New York Times that both Amazon and Google are currently violating “roughly 100” of its patents.

“Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology,” Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said in a statement to the Times. “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.”

We have reached out to Google and Amazon for comment.

Google and Amazon have both wandered headlong into hardware over the past several years, with internet-connected speakers representing one of their most concerted efforts. As the companies have built out their platforms, they have jumped into Sonos’ territory as they’ve pursued multi-room audio capabilities. The lawsuit complicates the business relationship between Google and Sonos. The Google Assistant is one of the voice assistants available on Sonos products and allows users to ask questions and control their music libraries with their voice.

“The Echo family of devices and our multi-room music technology were developed independently by Amazon,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch, in part.

The Times report details that there had been quite a bit of back-and-forth between Google and Sonos, and that Sonos has been pushing for Google to pay licensing fees on the tech and that Google’s counters were that Sonos was also using Google IP and that proposed licensing payments weren’t satisfactory to them.

For Google’s part, a company spokesperson highlighted that the companies had been in the midst of negotiations. “Over the years, we have had numerous ongoing conversations with Sonos about both companies’ IP rights 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.”