Sonos Puts Google in Court Over Smart Speaker Tech

Smart speaker manufacturer Sonos has filed a suit against Google, alleging the company of stealing its technology for use in their own smart speaker systems. Two federal lawsuits were presented on the 7th January 2020 that called for the halt of all sales of Google’s smart speaker as well as monetary compensation for the damage caused to Sonos’ business thus far. The suits were filed in both the US International Trade Commission and the US District Court in Los Angeles.

Using Patents Unfairly

The suit alleges that Google had access to Sonos’ patents thanks to a 2013 agreement that allowed the company’s speakers to integrate with Google Play Music. After the search giant managed to get those patents, they engineered the technology into their own speakers, allowing these hardware devices to operate simultaneously in multiple rooms from a single control device. The suit alleges that Google didn’t merely copy Sonos’ patented technology, but also flooded the market by introducing subsidized versions of the company’s products and taking business away from them. Google denied the allegations and stated that they were disappointed that Sonos could not reach an agreement with them without engaging in legal action.

More Fuel for the Antitrust Fire

In recent months, the US government has engaged in several antitrust probes into the search engine giant, among other companies that the government refers to under the blanket term of “Big Tech.” While the authorities have not yet passed judgment on any of these cases, this behavior is a classic case of a large company utilizing its vast financial resources to undercut the competition by creating products at a loss to monopolize the market. If this turns out to be accurate, then this is a clear example of Google’s behavior in a way that can be considered going against the antitrust laws. It remains to be seen whether the suit will make it to trial, or if Google will choose to settle out of court, to avoid further scrutiny of their practices.

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