Google to pay Sonos $32.5 million USD for infringing on a patent

Another victory for Sonos in the long-running legal battle

Google will need to pay Sonos $32.5 million USD (about $44.2 million CAD) after a jury verdict found the search giant infringed on Sonos’ speaker patent.

The decision was handed down in a San Francisco courtroom on Friday. It follows a multi-year legal battle between the companies over smart speaker tech, which saw Sonos accuse Google of copying its multiroom audio tech. Sonos won its case at the U.S. International Trade Commission, leading to a limited import ban on some Google devices. Google also had to pull some features from its smart speakers and displays.

In August, Google countersued Sonos, alleging the speaker company infringed on a number of its smart speaker patents. That lawsuit went to trial earlier in May, and here we are.

The jury found that Google infringed on one of two Sonos patents. The decision will generally go down as a win for Sonos, though not everything went the company’s way. The jury didn’t find that Google’s Home app infringed on another Sonos patent. Moreover, the judge instructed the jurors to disregard an estimate from one Sonos expert witness estimating damages at $90 million USD (about $123 million CAD).

Moreover, The Verge reports that the judge was critical of both companies. Judge William Alsup was frustrated the case went to trial and called it “emblematic of the worst of patent litigation.”

“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,” Sonos said in a statement to The Verge.

Google, on the other hand, told The Verge that, “This is a narrow dispute about some very specific features that are not commonly used. 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 merit of our ideas. We are considering our next steps.”

Source: The Verge