At the start of this year, smart speaker maker Sonos filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google. Sonos argued that Google had copied its technology in making Google audio products. This lawsuit followed the breakdown of licensing negotiations between the companies. Sonos had asked Google to officially license the technology in its home speakers, which can be synced with Google Assistant. However, Google allegedly demanded that Sonos notify Google about the names and designs of future products six months in advance. Google also allegedly demanded that Sonos refrain from making its speakers compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, a competing voice assistant program. Patrick Spence, the CEO of Sonos, revealed Google’s alleged anti-competitive actions in a congressional hearing earlier this year.
Now, Google has transitioned from defense to offense. This month, it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Sonos. The complaint alleges that Sonos has used patented Google innovations without its permission in areas such as search, software, audio processing, networking, and streaming. Google acknowledges its history of negotiations with Sonos, but it claims that it attempted to integrate the products of each company so that they worked smoothly together. Sonos argues that this lawsuit is merely a form of retaliation for its own lawsuit. Spence accused Google of using its massive resources and stranglehold over the world of search and advertising to unfairly copy inventions by smaller companies.
Concerns over Google’s arguably anti-competitive tactics have resulted in many ongoing antitrust lawsuits. The federal government also has grown concerned that Google may be violating the IP rights of other tech entities. The initial patent infringement lawsuit filed by Sonos led to a patent investigation of Google audio products by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
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