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.
There are of course similarities between each companies technology and with Sonos being the first prominent business to sell smart wireless speakers – there is bound to be accusations.
In the early days of Sonos, they worked hand in hand with Google – as they perceived them as an ‘internet’ company and not someone who would be making speakers, let alone hardware at all. Close to seven years later, a lot has changed.
Google and Amazon came out with their own speakers, undercutting Sonos’s prices and, according to Sonos executives, stealing its technology. Google and Amazon each now sell as many speakers in a few months as Sonos sells in one year.
Whilst the technology is in the same vein, it is evident than Sonos focus first on audio and speaker quality whilst Google and Amazon lean more into the ‘smart’ side of things with their digital assistants. Many people will not even use their Google and Amazon speakers for audio, just to communicate with Google and Alexa.
“Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology. 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.” Said Patrick Spence, the Sonos chief executive.
Sonos executives said they had decided to sue only Google because they couldn’t risk battling two tech giants in court at once. Yet Mr. Spence and congressional staff members have discussed his testifying to the House antitrust subcommittee soon about his company’s issues with them.
Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said Google and Sonos had discussed both companies’ intellectual property for years, “and we are disappointed that Sonos brought these lawsuits instead of continuing negotiations in good faith.” “We dispute these claims and will defend them vigorously,” he added.
It’s unsure whether Sonos will be successful suing Google, it will not be easy taking on a company of this magnitude and will likely hurt their working relationships with one of today’s most influential companies.
For now, Sonos isn’t making an unfair competition case against Google. But CEO Patrick Spence is set to testify before a congressional antitrust subcommittee on January 17th