Google to pay $32.5M as jury sides with Sonos on patent lawsuit

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Google has to pay Sonos $32.5 million after a jury sided with the smart speaker producer over claims of patent infringement.

Sonos Roam

On Friday, a jury reached a verdict on a lawsuit between Google and Sonos involving the alleged violation of patents. The San Francisco court battle resulted in a decision leaning towards Sonos, with Google needing to pay out millions.

The lawsuit, which started with Sonos suing Google in early 2020, had the speaker producer claim Google infringed on its patents for multi-room audio in its own speaker lineup and other devices, reports Law360

The verdict form provided to the jury covers two patents, with the first being the "885 patent" covering simultaneous multi-room audio. For that patent, Google failed to clearly prove the patent was invalid, but at the same time Sonos was able to show Google infringed claim 1 of that patent.

Previously, courts have ruled against Google and determined its older products had infringed. In this particular instance, it was to determine if newer products since that ruling were infringing.

On a second patent, the "966" which deals with using smartphones to control other devices, the jury again insisted that Google wasn't able to prove invalidity for five patent claims. However, Sonos was also not able to successfully prove Google violated those same claims.

For damages, the jury deemed a royalty of $2.30 per unit to be paid by Google to Sonos. At 14 million units, the total sum due to be paid is $32,507,183.40.

Following the lawsuit, Google insisted it was a "narrow dispute about some very specific features that are not commonly used," and focused on there only being one infringing patent. "We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merit of our ideas. We are considering our next steps."

Sonos was more celebratory in its post-court statement, thanking the jury for its time and diligence and in "recognizing the value of Sonos's invention of zone scenes." The verdict "re-affirms that Google is a serial infringer of our patent portfolio," Sonos continued.

"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" the statement followed. "Our goal remains for Google to pay us a fair royalty for the Sonos inventions it has appropriated."

Previously in 2022, the U.S. ITC upheld a ruling that Google had infringed on five Sonos technology patents. Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 4
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,711member
    Oh Google stealing again...what a surprise! 
  • Reply 2 of 4
    this reminds me.. how did they get away with ripping off Java again?
  • Reply 3 of 4
    this reminds me.. how did they get away with ripping off Java again?
    Because the management of Sun didn't value Java enough and were happy for someone else to deal with the raving open source fans. When Oracle tried to enforce their IP rights they were hamstrung by the fact that Sun hadn't done anything to enforce those rights in the past. The libraries were then deemed by the courts to be copyrightable implementations but the function interfaces were deemed exempt since the vast majority of functions have an intrinsic order of parameters that does not involve creativity.

    The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) makes use of this same ruling to provide a programmatically-equivalent version of the Android OS... but they can't implement Google's Play Store code on it because that remains closed-source code. Since the vast majority of apps are on the Google Play store, you need to jump through several hoops as a user to obtain and install apps for a phone with AOSP and you miss out on the security and functionality updates from Google until the AOSP crew can recreate them.

    Yet more proof that idealists don't do too well in a capitalist system.
  • Reply 4 of 4
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,921member
    OOOH, sneaky sneaky Sonos, but they were caught. The result is the ruling has been reversed, and the patents declared invalid. 

    In the verdict reversal clearing Google of blame "Alsup pointed to evidence from 2014 when Google shared with Sonos a plan to use the the technology in the inventions under dispute, and that the companies considered collaborating but plans never materialized. Even after Google launched their first device in 2015, Sonos waited four years to pursue claims on their invention and then another year until they sold their own competing product."

    "Sonos further “sunk any claim of priority” by amending the patents’ specification to add new matter in the midst of litigation, even while telling the patent examiner the inserted content was not new, the court said. “It is wrong that our patent system was used in this way,” Aslup added. He chastised Sonos for punishing an innovator “to enrich a pretender by delay and sleight of hand.”

    edited October 10
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