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

The Google name is displayed outside the company’s office in London, UK on November 1, 2018. REUTERS / Toby Melville

A U.S. commercial court has barred Google from importing products that violate home audio company Sonos’ smart speaker patents.

The U.S. International Trade Commission upheld a ruling in August that Google’s audio products violated five Sonos patents and banned Google from importing “network speaker devices” and devices that could control them, such as cell phones and laptops.
The ruling says it will not prevent Google from importing products redesigned to avoid patent infringement. Google said it did not expect the decision to affect its ability to import or sell products.

“We will continue to investigate and defend ourselves against vain claims made by Sonos about our organization and our intellectual property,” the company said.
Eddie Lazarus, chief legal officer of Sonos, called the verdict a “crusader” victory. Google’s products still violate patents, even though they tried to develop them.

Sonos’ stock rose 1.5% in late morning trading on Friday, up from more than 3% previously.

According to the Sonos regulatory filing, the parties have been embroiled in a global patent war on multi-room audio technology since 2020, with court cases in California, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Sonos first sued Google in Los Angeles, alleging that the company had misused its technology in “more than a dozen other infringing products”, including Google home speakers and Pixel phones, tablets and laptops.

Google responded with its own lawsuit in San Francisco, creating “significant quantities” of its technology without permission for multiple products, including controller applications and the Radio Sonos service.

At ITC, Sonos was trying to block Google from importing home speakers, Pixel phones and other products from China.

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