Last Friday, the year-long case moved forward when the US International Trade Commission found Sonos’ evidence satisfactory, making a preliminary ruling in favor of the $5 billion company, and leaving Google quaking in its boots for the potential consequences.
Three years later, Google came out with the 2016 Google Home smart speaker, and Sonos claims it uses some of the same hardware as its own, which Google had allegedly stolen in violation of their collaboration agreement.
While Sonos is 19 years old and specializes solely in smart home speakers, its market value of $5 billion pales in comparison to the search giant’s worth of over one trillion dollars. Facing off with such a monstrous competitor does come with its risks of possible fierce retaliation, but Sonos went for it, and so far the lawsuit is turning out in its favor.
Amazon is allegedly a partner in crime
Sonos has said that Amazon is leeching off its smart speaker audio features as well, as the two companies have also worked together in the past to integrate Amazon’s Alexa as a built-in feature of all Sonos speakers. For now, however, Sonos is directing its efforts on fighting Google.
Sonos’ Chief Legal Officer, Eddie Lazarus, issued a statement after the Friday ruling: “Today the ALJ has found all five of Sonos’ asserted patents to be valid and that Google infringes on all five patents. We are pleased the ITC has confirmed Google’s blatant infringement of Sonos’ patented inventions.
Unsurprisingly, Google is fighting back tooth and nail, holding that “We do not use Sonos’ technology, and we compete on the quality of our products and the merits of our ideas. We disagree with this preliminary ruling and will continue to make our case in the upcoming review process.”
A victory for Sonos may get Google smart speakers banned
If Sonos ends up winning the lawsuit in the final ruling, and Google is found guilty of illegally copying Sonos’ hardware, the repercussions of this could be tremendous. Google may well be forced to pull all of its smart speakers off the market, and that product line (including all connecting accessories) makes up no small portion of Google’s market value.
It would be a significant financial blow to the search giant if that were to happen, but there is still time for the two companies to make peace before December 13, which is the set date for the final ruling.