Google sues Sonos over new voice-assistant technology

2 minute read

The logo for Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • New U.S. lawsuits say Sonos' Voice Control infringes patents
  • Ex-partners already embroiled in fight over smart-speaker tech

(Reuters) - Alphabet's Google escalated its legal war with Sonos Inc on Monday, filing lawsuits in California federal court that said Sonos' new voice-assistant technology violates several Google patents.

Sonos' Voice Control feature for its smart speakers, introduced in May, infringes seven patents related to Google Assistant technology, the lawsuits say.

The new complaints add to an ongoing patent fight between the former partners over smart-speaker technology, including lawsuits in California, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Sonos won an import ban on some Google devices from the U.S. International Trade Commission in January.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Sonos' chief legal officer Eddie Lazarus said in a statement that the new lawsuits were an "intimidation tactic designed to retaliate against Sonos for speaking out against Google’s monopolistic practices, avoid paying Sonos a fair royalty for the roughly 200 patents it is currently infringing, and grind down a smaller competitor."

Google spokesperson José Castañeda said Sonos had "started an aggressive and misleading campaign against our products at the expense of our shared customers."

Castañeda also said Google would file a related complaint at the ITC.

Google accused Sonos in the Monday lawsuits of infringing a variety of patents related to "enabling voice assistant technology and providing improvements to the efficiency, reliability, and durability of voice-controlled and battery-powered devices."

Google said it had made its Google Assistant software available to Sonos for years, and that its engineers had helped Sonos engineers implement voice-recognition technology on Sonos devices.

The California lawsuits request an unspecified amount of money damages and an order to block Sonos' alleged infringement.

The cases are Google LLC v. Sonos Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Nos. 3:22-cv-04552 and 3:22-cv-04553.

For Google: Charles Verhoeven, David Nelson, Patrick Curran, Alex Lasher, Jeffrey Gerchick, and Nina Tallon of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

For Sonos: not available

(NOTE: This story has been updated with comment from Sonos.)

Read more:

Sonos wins Google import ban ruling in U.S. patent fight

Judge removes clerk from Sonos case after Google conflict questions

Google sues Sonos, escalating wireless speaker battle amid trade panel probe

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com