Sonos wins patent lawsuit, Pixel phones and other Google devices face sales ban

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Google and Sonos are locked in a protracted legal battle over patent infringement, with both sides suing each other over the years, but it appears Sonos has finally gained an upper hand in that feud. according to a report by the new York TimesA trade court has ruled that Google violated laws by illegally using Sonos’ patented audio technologies used in smart homes and audio devices.

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a stop and finish order against Google by the United States International Trade Commission. According to the ruling, all products that infringe on the patented technology should be banned from importing into the United States. And the list of products that have come under the Sonos-Google war is huge.

Sonos has accused Google of infringing on more than 100 patents, alleging that Google did not sign a licensing deal to use them.

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Sonos has asked the federal agency to block all products that allegedly use its proprietary technology in violation of patent laws, and those include the Google Home and Nest families, Chromecast, Pixel phones, and even more. That the Pixelbook computer includes smart speakers. The commission’s decision also directed Google to stop selling controversial products that are already on its catalog on US soil.

Sonos has accused Google of infringing on more than 100 patents, alleging that Google did not sign a licensing deal to use them. For those unaware, a licensing deal allows one company to use another company’s patented technology in its products in exchange for a fee. The industry classifies this as patent royalty. In this case, Google allegedly put Sonos’ technology into its hardware without permission or charge. Sonos is now seeking damages from Google for this.

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However, this is not the end, and Google products will not be banned outright from entering the United States. The final decision is now in the hands of the President. If the Joe Biden administration vetos Sonos’ request, Google won’t face a hardware import ban. However, this should happen in the next 60 days, as in A. According to bloomberg report good. If Google fails to take the president’s side, the Home hardware and Pixel phones will be legally banned from being sold in the United States. Google’s hopes now rest on a presidential review, but it could also oppose the decision in the country’s top patent court.

It has been suspected – but not confirmed – that Android’s implementation of Cast devices’ remote volume button controls was an infringement of one of Sonos’ audio patents, which is why the feature was initially disabled in Android 12. Went .

— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) 6 January 2022

The latest decision is based on five key patents. The patent covers the ability for an audio device to be combined with more units to form a stereo system. They also talk about a system that remotely controls the volume of a single or a group of synchronized speakers. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Android already provides a trick to do this while casting audio to connected speakers. Google denies that it illegally copied the above features for its own ecosystem of devices.

Here’s the more interesting part: Google has redesigned some of the key functionalities that cover audio synchronization for smart speakers. The company has described these changes in the ITC filings which were noticed by bloomberg last September. Doing so would allow Google to operate outside the confines of Sonos’ patented technology. In simple words, there will be no patent infringement.

However, a downgrade would mean that the user experience would be affected. according to a 9to5google According to the report, the volume controls of the Google Home speakers connected to the stereo system were broken for some users. It was rumored that this could be the result of Google deliberately killing off some features that Sonos objected to in its patent lawsuit.

Google sees this as a politically opportunistic shakedown.

Sonos sees this as a big tech that eventually has to pay for the IP it’s picked up.

This is a religious debate, and not one that is likely to end soon.

— David Ruddock (@RDRv3) 6 January 2022

An old dispute is about to end

The roots of the Google feud go back a long way. Sonos alleges that it shared details of its patented technology with Google in 2013, but the two companies reportedly could not come up with licensing deals. Instead, Google began making its own smart home hardware under the Home brand two years after that — but here’s another twist.

At one point, Sonos was working on a technology called Concurrency, which would allow multiple AI assistants like Google’s own and Amazon’s Alexa to work and be active simultaneously on the same device. According to Washington PostGoogle reportedly didn’t like the idea after Sonos gave its team a demonstration.

In addition, Google reportedly barred Sonos from bringing the product to market, citing the terms of certain distribution agreements. Apparently, Google wasn’t okay with allowing another virtual assistant to share the platform (read: competing) with Google Assistant on the same device. Sonos Voice VP Joseph Duro later confirmed protocol that he was actually working on such technology.

If both companies had embraced Concurrency technology, we could have better smart speakers in the market with the Google Assistant, Alexa, and even Bixby. Sonos is reportedly working on its own voice assistant that will work with Alexa on smart speakers, but it won’t coexist with Google Assistant. Call it revenge, but it sounds fair.

And for the odd timing the prize goes…

in the words of @ Rihanna Thank you for saying “Please don’t stop the music” and Chromecast being built into more devices you don’t own. Just your music and podcasts in your . cast from #Android Phones for Speakers starting with @ boss in the next few months. #CES2022 pic.twitter.com/XByyeUwlEu

— android (@android) 6 January 2022

As the Google-Sonos drama unfolds, a big announcement has come at an odd time. Google has announced that users will soon be able to stream their music directly from their Android phones to Bose speakers. That’s because Bose speakers are adopting the built-in Chromecast and will hit shelves in the next few months.




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