Google, Sonos go to trial in heated smart speaker patent dispute

Sonos Inc and Alphabet's Google LLC will face off in a San Francisco court trial over charges that Google duplicated Sonos' patented smart-speaker technology in wireless audio devices like Google Home and Chromecast Audio.

The action is part of a vast intellectual property battle between the former business partners that involves other litigation in the US, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Sonos has sought the court for $90 million in damages from Google in the San Francisco lawsuit, down from $3 billion after US District Judge William Alsup reduced the case, according to a Google court filing. Sonos believes Google infringes two of its patents relating to multi-room wireless audio.

Google spokesman Jose Castaneda claimed the lawsuit pertains to "some very specific features that are not commonly used," and that Sonos "mischaracterized our partnership and technology."
Sonos refused to comment on the matter.

The firms previously worked together to incorporate Google's streaming music service into Sonos devices. Sonos originally sued Google for patent infringement in Los Angeles and at the US International Trade Commission in 2020, alleging the tech giant of duplicating its technologies during their partnership.

Sonos secured a temporary import restriction on select Google devices from the ITC last year, which Google has appealing. Google has fought with its own patent cases in California and at the ITC.

Alsup has had scathing words for both firms. Last month, he labeled their assaults on one another's expert evidence "emblematic of the worst of patent litigation" with "much ink spilled for little purpose."
In a 2020 ruling, he emphasized the "enormous" expenses previously invested on the case.

"By the end, our parties' legal bills will likely have been able to build dozens of schools, pay all the teachers, and provide hot lunches to the children," the judge wrote.