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ThePointblank

Sonos Suing Google For Patent Infringment

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Posted · Original PosterOP

From the New York Times:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/07/technology/sonos-sues-google.html

 

Quote

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — In 2013, Sonos scored a coup when Google agreed to design its music service to work easily with Sonos’s home speakers. For the project, Sonos handed over the effective blueprints to its speakers.

It felt like a harmless move, Sonos executives said. Google was an internet company and didn’t make speakers.

The executives now say they were naïve.

On Tuesday, Sonos sued Google in two federal court systems, seeking financial damages and a ban on the sale of Google’s speakers, smartphones and laptops in the United States. Sonos accused Google of infringing on five of its patents, including technology that lets wireless speakers connect and synchronize with one another.

Sonos’s complaints go beyond patents and Google. Its legal action is the culmination of years of growing dependence on both Google and Amazon, which then used their leverage to squeeze the smaller company, Sonos executives said.

The shortened version of the article:

 

Back in 2013, Sonos showed off some of their technology to their speakers to Google when Google agreed to adjust their music service so it worked better with Sonos's home speaker systems. At the time, Sonos didn't expect Google to be entering the home theater market with their own speakers.

 

When Google entered the market, Sonos has a number of their engineers go out and purchase the Google devices and had tests run on them, which Sonos claims that the speakers used technological solutions that Sonos has previously developed and patented. Sonos also claims that Amazon's Echo devices also infringe on Sonos's patents, but haven't gone after Amazon yet.

 

Sonos apparently had notified Google of the patent infringement, but over the past few years, but Google was unwilling either to recognize it or to adequately compensate Sonos over the infringement. On one occasion, it reportedly responded by claiming Sonos was infringing on Google's intellectual property as well.

 

Flash forward to today, and Sonos has applied in federal court and the US International Trade Commission for patent infringement, seeking financial damages and a total ban on a variety of Google devices, including of course, smart speakers and smartphones.

 

Sonos's in the complaint (here) says that its "patents cover important aspects of wireless multi-room audio systems, such as setting up a playback device on a wireless local area network, managing and controlling groups of playback devices (e.g., adjusting group volume of playback devices and pairing playback devices together for stereo sound), and synchronizing playback of audio within groups of playback devices."

 

Sonos executives said they had decided to sue only Google because they couldn’t risk battling two tech giants in court at once, as both Amazon and Google sell more smart speakers in a month than Sonos does in a year, and it is the belief of Sonos that both Amazon and Google are using their market and financial dominance to squeeze Sonos out of business.

 

In fact, the New York Times article is reporting that Sonos is claiming when Sonos intensified their push for compensation, Google retaliated by pushing Sonos to comply with stricter rules for using Google’s virtual assistant. Those proposed rules included a mandate to turn over the planned name, design and targeted start date of its future products — which Google would compete directly against — six months in advance, up from 45 days.

 

This litigation strategy does not come without risks; not only are both Amazon and Google significantly bigger companies, Sonos is very heavily dependent on both companies to run it's business; it uses Google for advertising, and Amazon's servers to manage the back end, along with using Amazon's storefront to sell to customers.

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1 hour ago, Arika S said:

bahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahha

It would be even funnier if it passes. 


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Why the fucl< would you provide a blueprint to Google and not expect this? 


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1 hour ago, ThePointblank said:

a ban on the sale of Google’s speakers, smartphones and laptops in the United States

what sonos thinks google is thinking right now: OH NOES!!! WE CAN'T SELL OUR PRODUCTS IN THE U.S!!!!! WHAT WILL WE DO!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

sonos: HA, we gotem now bois!!!!!!

google: *sells it in other countries*

sonos: shit....

 

anyways, this really isn't going to go down well, they currently are under flac from the community for the bricking thing a couple of weeks ago and to top it off, they are currently trying to sue a HUGE international company.

even if they win, google really isn't going to let this go and will act like a spoiled brat having a tantrum by ensuring that people can't search for sonos products or services on their search engine.

they do this already with news relating to anything saying bad about them so this will happen to sonos no questions asked.

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So they pretty much shared a design with Google, and didn't expect Google to use it?

Screw Sonos for their speaker bricking thing though, would be funny if Google buys them out.

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This is total bullshit, their entire case is that Google made devices with features that Sonos devices had prior. That’s how the world works, someone makes a good product and then someone makes a competitor. Claiming that you have patents for configuring a speaker on a WLAN, synchronising music and adjusting volume as a group is a joke on Sonos part.

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9 minutes ago, schwellmo92 said:

This is total bullshit, their entire case is that Google made devices with features that Sonos devices had prior. That’s how the world works, someone makes a good product and then someone makes a competitor. Claiming that you have patents for configuring a speaker on a WLAN, synchronising music and adjusting volume as a group is a joke on Sonos part.

Remember, here at the patent office, we patent problems not solutions.


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A David vs Goliath desperation fight.  Such things are rarely successful these days.  We’re they infringed on and do they deserve to win?  Probably.  Will they? Unlikely.

 

Winning in court has been more about being rich than being right for a while now.  It’s evil but it’s the way it is currently.


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15 minutes ago, schwellmo92 said:

This is total bullshit, their entire case is that Google made devices with features that Sonos devices had prior. That’s how the world works, someone makes a good product and then someone makes a competitor. Claiming that you have patents for configuring a speaker on a WLAN, synchronising music and adjusting volume as a group is a joke on Sonos part.

Tech patents are a tad strange as they're more about strategy defense than actually protecting a product, but that doesn't mean Google isn't in violation of patents Sonos has. This is especially true if Sonos had informed Google in the years previous and had been working on settling the issue. This could also flow into an anti-trust complaint to the FTC, if Google had been trying to bully Sonos around.

 

Realistically, this is probably a play by Sonos to get bought out by Google, but, who knows, maybe they'll win their case and throw the most hilarious of monkey wrenches into Google's plans. I'd find that the more enjoyable result.

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Like most things. The devils in the detail. Frankly though, hard for me to care for Sonos claiming they have a patent for a wireless volume slider solution. Get over themselves!

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9 hours ago, Arika S said:

bahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahha

last time the US court banned the sale of a US tech giants products,  the president overturned the ruling.  Thus making the entire system little more than a joke disguised as a kangaroo in building pretending to represent justice.


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5 hours ago, Taf the Ghost said:

Tech patents are a tad strange as they're more about strategy defense than actually protecting a product, but that doesn't mean Google isn't in violation of patents Sonos has. This is especially true if Sonos had informed Google in the years previous and had been working on settling the issue. This could also flow into an anti-trust complaint to the FTC, if Google had been trying to bully Sonos around.

 

Realistically, this is probably a play by Sonos to get bought out by Google, but, who knows, maybe they'll win their case and throw the most hilarious of monkey wrenches into Google's plans. I'd find that the more enjoyable result.

I’m just sick of this blatant patent trolling you often see, this is definitely a case of it and Sonos should lose the case regardless of who they’re fighting. Their claim is weak, and regardless of the technicalities of how parents work, is just down right wrong and unethical IMO.

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Just now, schwellmo92 said:

I’m just sick of this blatant patent trolling you often see, this is definitely a case of it and Sonos should lose the case regardless of who they’re fighting. Their claim is weak, and regardless of the technicalities of how parents work, is just down right wrong and unethical IMO.

Eh, Google should be launched into orbit and its name go down as a curse. I hope Sonos wins, for the laughs alone.

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Someone needs to take Sonos down a few pegs, they are way too expensive, I would go for them, except for the fact that a Sonos Port is $450 (and I would need AT LEAST 3) and a speaker is $179, Basically, I am getting 50% LESS for more than 50% MORE. Ludicrous company pricing and shitty company ways with the speaker bricking and now this? Sit the hell down Sonos and shut up.

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I've defended a lot of stupid things Sonos has done, but being a patent troll is where I draw the line... 

 

Now, the whole story could be that Google is straight up using Sonos' code to run the Nest Speakers, in which case I'd stand by Sonos, but I doubt that is the case. Its probably just that they are using the same idea Sonos had, and that shit shouldn't fly. The worst of it is that they will likely loose, need a cash influx, and let Apple buy them. 6 months later I'll have to make an iTunes account to use the speakers and off to eBay they go.

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Just some reminders to the people in this thread. 

 

Sonos is not a patent troll. Patent troll is someone who just hoards parents for the purpose of suing and making money, often without even having a legitimate producing using the parents. 

This case is apparently Sonos trying to negotiate with Google for several years and instead have been given the middle finger on multiple occasions. 

 

Also, the detail about Google forcing Sonos to hand over details about future devices several months in advance seems like blatent abuse of power from Google. 

 

 

Not sure if I think Sonos should win this (I think all software patents should be straight up invalidated) but it seems to me like Google is not exactly innocent in this either. 

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So,  I never heard of Sonus,  so this is about software?   ?

 

Also the fact someone uses "Google speakers" is beyond me,  to each their own of course,  I just find it weird, Google keeps "inventing" things there's no demand for (like Stadia) and suddenly it's a "thing"  and people buy it in droves because it's "on sale at Amazon".

 

(and then a year later are inevitably "disappointed" because the product they bought never made any sense) 

 

 


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Way too many people here kissing Google's ass.

 

Sonos handing over technical details to enable a Google service doesn't give Google carte blanche to copy that technology (if it did) and deliberately undermine a partner.  And if it's true that Google punished Sonos' demands for licensing by effectively forcing it to reveal its product roadmap six months in advance, that's straight-up antitrust abuse.

 

Even if Sonos is being opportunistic, Google's practices would still be quite despicable if accurate.  I'm not going to shed a tear if Sonos wins (although it's more likely to get a settlement first).

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9 minutes ago, Commodus said:

Way too many people here kissing Google's ass.

 

Sonos handing over technical details to enable a Google service doesn't give Google carte blanche to copy that technology (if it did) and deliberately undermine a partner.  And if it's true that Google punished Sonos' demands for licensing by effectively forcing it to reveal its product roadmap six months in advance, that's straight-up antitrust abuse.

 

Even if Sonos is being opportunistic, Google's practices would still be quite despicable if accurate.  I'm not going to shed a tear if Sonos wins (although it's more likely to get a settlement first).

That's the things though. Did Google copy it? If they did, that's bad. But is it protectable? If not, that's bad for Sonos only.

As with any/most cases and mud slinging "he said/she said" etc, and who knows until it all comes to light.

 

Software patents are problematic as they can often cover obvious ideas. Here in the UK, out national telephone company BT decided it patented the internet link "a method of linking data" the technical diagram was 1) link data, 2) follow data" and thus thrown out of court. Who knows if it's the same here, or if Google ctrl-c, ctrl-v the entire sourcecode?

 

So no, no we cannot judge people for being "fanbois" anymore than we can judge the case. It's an open book at this point.

 

But I agree that lots of companies seem to do this kind of thing, and I would not be surprised if Google had done it! I've known of companies getting "interviews" in for graphic design work, looking over the portfolio of work, and then taking interviees around for a "tour of the offices". Once on the tour, someone else scans in the portfolio, and then has a nice sized free clipart/ideas book to steal from. :(

 

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4 minutes ago, TechyBen said:

That's the things though. Did Google copy it? If they did, that's bad. But is it protectable? If not, that's bad for Sonos only.

As with any/most cases and mud slinging "he said/she said" etc, and who knows until it all comes to light.

 

Software patents are problematic as they can often cover obvious ideas. Here in the UK, out national telephone company BT decided it patented the internet link "a method of linking data" the technical diagram was 1) link data, 2) follow data" and thus thrown out of court. Who knows if it's the same here, or if Google ctrl-c, ctrl-v the entire sourcecode?

 

So no, no we cannot judge people for being "fanbois" anymore than we can judge the case. It's an open book at this point.

 

But I agree that lots of companies seem to do this kind of thing, and I would not be surprised if Google had done it! I've known of companies getting "interviews" in for graphic design work, looking over the portfolio of work, and then taking interviees around for a "tour of the offices". Once on the tour, someone else scans in the portfolio, and then has a nice sized free clipart/ideas book to steal from. :(

 

My beef isn't so much with the authenticity of the claims as that people are rushing to defend Google while assuming Sonos is the eeeeeevil patent troll.  Like they're letting their worship for Android and Chrome cloud their judgment.

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2 hours ago, Shadow Bullet said:

Someone needs to take Sonos down a few pegs, they are way too expensive, I would go for them, except for the fact that a Sonos Port is $450 (and I would need AT LEAST 3) and a speaker is $179, Basically, I am getting 50% LESS for more than 50% MORE. Ludicrous company pricing and shitty company ways with the speaker bricking and now this? Sit the hell down Sonos and shut up.

Well these speakers are a convenience thing over everything else, they're for people that find it too inconvenient to get a better speaker for the money and either connect their device to play audio over bluetooth or use an adapter. But I agree the pricing is dumb, I wouldn't mind they lost this case and were forced to change their policies because their bricking speakers to convince people into buying a new one is very anti-consumer.

People can claim it's Google fanboi-ing but this is the definition of patent trolling if this case is down to a software patent, Sonos would clearly just want money and not want to work with Google.  I'm sure Sonos would enjoy working only with Apple, they're notorious for patent trolling and would copy everything from Sonos as if it's theirs.

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2 minutes ago, Blademaster91 said:

Well these speakers are a convenience thing over everything else, they're for people that find it too inconvenient to get a better speaker for the money and either connect their device to play audio over bluetooth or use an adapter. But I agree the pricing is dumb, I wouldn't mind they lost this case and were forced to change their policies because their bricking speakers to convince people into buying a new one is very anti-consumer.

People can claim it's Google fanboi-ing but this is the definition of patent trolling if this case is down to a software patent, Sonos would clearly just want money and not want to work with Google.  I'm sure Sonos would enjoy working only with Apple, they're notorious for patent trolling and would copy everything from Sonos as if it's theirs.

Sonos was and still is working with Google.  It just argues that Google exploited that cooperation to compete against a partner.

 

Also, revisionist history much?  Apple was aggressive with lawsuits in the early 2010s, but in some of those cases it was reacting to some pretty blatant copying by others (Samsung's holy mission in that era was to copy the iPhone and iPad as much as possible).

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