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

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - A U.S. trade court barred Google late Thursday from importing products that infringe home-audio company Sonos' smart-speaker patents.

The U.S. International Trade Commission affirmed an August decision that Google audio products infringed five Sonos patents and banned Google from importing "networked speaker devices" and devices that can control them like mobile phones and laptops.

The ruling says Google won't be barred from importing products that it had redesigned to avoid infringing the patents. A Google spokesperson said it does not expect the decision to affect to its ability to import or sell its products.

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"We will seek further review and continue to defend ourselves against Sonos' frivolous claims about our partnership and intellectual property," the company said.

Sonos' Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus called the ruling an "across-the-board" win and said Google's products still infringe the patents despite its attempts to design around them.

Sonos' stock was up 1.5% in late morning trading on Friday, having earlier risen more than 3%.

The parties have been embroiled in a global patent war over multi-room audio technology since 2020 that includes court cases in California, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands, according to a Sonos regulatory filing.

Sonos first sued Google in Los Angeles, alleging the company misused its technology in "more than a dozen different infringing products", including Google Home speakers and Pixel phones, tablets, and laptops.

Google responded with its own lawsuit in San Francisco, alleging Sonos used "substantial volumes" of its technology without permission for several products, including controller apps and its Sonos Radio service.

At the ITC, Sonos had been trying to block Google from importing Home speakers, Pixel phones and other products from China.

(This story was refiled to fix typographical error in paragraph 5)

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Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington; Editing by David Bario and Jan Harvey

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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