Sonos secures legal victory against Google, this time at US trade tribunal

Sonos has clinched victory in another legal battle against Google after a judge at the US International Trade Commission ruled in favor of the speaker maker in its patent dispute with the tech giant.

The judge, Cameron Elliot, determined that imports of Sonos’ voice-controlled speakers did not infringe federal law, contrary to Google’s claims.

Google had filed a complaint with the US ITC in August 2022, alleging that Sonos infringed four of its patents and sought to block imports of the latter’s speakers with voice-control capabilities. 

Google had already made similar claims against Sonos in California and Sonos had also filed its own complaints against the Alphabet-owned company.

In late May, a jury in San Francisco ordered Google to pay $32.5 million to the speaker manufacturer for patent infringement. Sonos sued Google in San Francisco in 2020 for infringing five patents related to speaker features after the pair partnered in 2013.

Most recently, Judge Elliot of the US ITC noted that Sonos successfully defended against Google’s allegations that the speaker manufacturer infringed on its patents.

Regarding one of the patents, US Patent No. 11,024,311, the judge acknowledged that while Google demonstrated infringement of claim 10, Sonos was able to establish the invalidity of multiple claims. 

Similarly, in the case of US Patent No. 11,050,615, Google showed infringement on several claims, but Sonos countered by proving their invalidity.

For the third patent in question, the judge determined that Google failed to demonstrate infringement on any of the asserted claims. The initial determination suggests that there is no violation of a Google patent in Sonos hardware that would render product importation unlawful.

“Based on the foregoing, it is my Initial Determination that there is no violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C. § 1337, in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, or the sale within the United States after importation of certain audio players and components thereof in connection with the asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,632,748, 11,024,311, and 11,050,615,” the judge ruled.

This marked the “fifth jurisdiction (including Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, and France) in which Google has sued Sonos and lost,” Sonos’ Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel, Eddie Lazarus, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Lazarus also called Google’s lawsuits a “gross abuse of the patent system and an effort to punish Sonos for standing up for its own inventions.”

Additional lawsuits filed by Google against Sonos in California remain pending, contingent on the outcome of ITC investigations.

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