According to lawsuit documents obtained by The Verge, Google got access to Sonos’ patented technology through a 2013 partnership and has allegedly been infringing on Sonos’ patents since 2015 through over a dozen products including Google’s flagship Pixel phones and various Google Home devices.
Sonos has alleged that Google has subsidized prices on its patent-infringed products, flooding the market with cheaper options that have hurt their business. Google’s cheapest smart speaker, the Google Home Mini, has a base price of $49 and is currently on sale for $25, while Sonos’ cheapest speaker costs $179. The suit also claims that the damage from Google’s alleged infringement is increased as the company collects user data that further bolsters its ad and search services.
Sonos believes both Google and Amazon have violated Sonos’ patents, but the company is suing only Google because it couldn’t “risk battling two tech giants in court at once,” the Times reported. Sonos is suing Google in both federal district court and the United States International Trade Commission, as they seek undisclosed financial damages alongside a ban on the sale of Google’s smartphones, speakers and laptops in the U.S.
The smart speaker space is thriving, with tech giants like Apple, Amazon and Google all selling their own speakers. The Consumer Technology Association projected smart speakers alone to pull in about $3 billion in revenue for 2019, according to the Association’s midyear report.
Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said in a statement that the company had warned Google multiple times about the alleged violation at least four times since 2016 before filing the suit. “Google is an important partner with whom we have collaborated successfully for years,” Spence said. “However, Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology in creating its audio products. Despite our repeated & 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.”
Google spokesperson Jose Castañeda said in a statement that Google and Sonos have had talks regarding intellectual property rights, but “dispute these claims and will defend them vigorously.”