The year 2020 is kicking off with a major lawsuit.
Sonos is suing Google in two federal courts. Sonos says that Google is infringing on five of its patents, including tech that enables wireless speakers to connect and sync with each other, but the company claims that Google has actually violated around 100 patents.
As part of the lawsuit, Sonos is asking for financial damages as well as a ban on the sale of Google speakers, smartphones, and laptops in the U.S.
According to a report from The New York Times, Sonos actually believes that both Google and Amazon have infringed upon its technologies. Sonos is only suing Google right now, though, because it doesn’t want to take on two huge companies in court at the same time.
“Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology,” said Sonos CEO Patrick Spence. “Despite our repeated and extensive efforts over the last few years, Google has not shown any willingness to work with us on a mutually beneficial solution. We’re left with no choice but to litigate.”
Meanwhile, a Google spokesperson said that the two companies have been talking about intellectual property for years and that Google is “disappointed that Sonos brought these lawsuits instead of continuing negotiations in good faith. We dispute these claims and will defend them vigorously.”
An Amazon spokesperson responded to Sonos’s complaints by saying that “The Echo family of devices and our multi-room music technology were developed independently by Amazon.”
Sonos claims that when it partnered with Google in 2013, it handed diagrams of how its speakers interacted with each other over to Google engineers. Google went on to release its own wireless speaker called the Google Home (shown above) two years later, and Sonos determined that Google’s speaker used the same method for wireless syncing that Sonos used.
Google and Sonos then went back and forth claiming the other company was infringing on patents. Sonos tried to get Google to pay licensing fees, but Google then submitted its own licensing plan to Sonos and it ultimately paid almost nothing.
Amazon and Google have taken a huge chunk of the smart speaker market in recent years by offering super cheap devices. The Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini normally cost $50 but are regularly on sale for far less, while the cheapest Sonos smart speaker starts at $200. While Sonos is a well-known name when it comes to speakers thanks to their multi-room syncing and audio quality, Amazon and Google’s speakers are attractive to a lot of people thanks to their aggressive pricing.
No one knows how this lawsuit will turn out, but because Sonos is going after Google in a big way by seeking a ban on the company’s phones, speakers, and laptops, this is definitely something we’re going to keep an eye on.