Earlier this year, Sonos sued Google alleging patent infringement related to smart speakers. In a countersuit, Google is alleging that it contributed “substantial Google engineering resources” to help Sonos in the past.
According to The Verge, Google is suing Sonos over five patents related to mesh networking, echo cancellation, DRM, content notifications, and personalized search. In its history, Google has rarely filed patent lawsuits, and has worked to discourage patent trolls in the past.
In these collaborations, Sonos has repeatedly asked Google for assistance, so that Sonos could employ Google technology to improve Sonos’ products.
Notably, Google is making the case that it has provided Sonos with “significant assistance in designing, implementing, and testing.” This is in contrast to a Sonos claim that Google infringed on its technology after the two worked to integrate Play Music in 2013.
In 2013, Sonos asked for Google’s assistance to integrate with Google’s popular Play Music service. Google gave Sonos that assistance, and provided significant engineering resources, technical support, and other resources to integrate Sonos’ products with Google’s PlayMusic service in 2014.
In 2016, Sonos again asked for Google’s assistance–this time to integrate with Google’s innovative Assistant software. And again, Google was willing to help. Google gave Sonos significant assistance in designing, implementing, and testing a solution that would bring Google’s voice recognition software to Sonos’ devices. This effort again involved substantial Google engineering resources, including significant months of employee work time, for the initial launch of Google’s Assistant on Sonos’ products in May 2019.
At the same time, Google says it’s “proud of its more than five-year partnership with Sonos, and has worked constructively with Sonos to make the companies’ products work seamlessly by building special integrations for Sonos.” Last year’s launch of Google Assistant on Sonos speakers was touted as an example.
Google issued the following statement to the Verge about today’s countersuit against Sonos, with the court filing now available:
‘We are disappointed that Sonos has made false claims about our work together and technology,’ Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, said in a statement to The Verge. ‘We are reluctantly defending ourselves by asserting our patent rights. While we look to resolve our dispute, we will continue to ensure our shared customers have the best experience using our products.’
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