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Sonos Smacks Google With Yet Another Lawsuit Over Its Speaker Tech

Illustration for article titled Sonos Smacks Google With Yet Another Lawsuit Over Its Speaker Tech
Photo: Adam Clark Estes/Gizmodo

Thanks to an accidental leak from Walmart, we’re pretty sure a new Google Nest speaker is on the docket for tomorrow’s Launch Night In event. You know who’s not too happy about that? Sonos.

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Earlier today, Sonos filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Texas alleging that Google had infringed on five of its patents. In particular, the patents in question all involve features that we’ve come to expect from smart speakers: for instance, the ability to transfer music playback from your phone to a speaker, control music in different rooms of your house, and tune speakers based on a room’s specific acoustics.

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If this sounds familiar, it should. This is already the second lawsuit Sonos has filed against Google over patent infringement. The first was back in January. In it, Sonos accused Google of “blatantly and knowingly” cribbing its speaker technology. A few months later, Google hit back with a countersuit, which was the equivalent of the tech giant filing its nails while saying, “Hey, don’t know why you had to take our dispute public but honey don’t forget who helped you integrate a smart assistant into your speakers.”

Patents themselves aren’t always super exciting, but you bet the catty legal back and forth between tech companies over who stole what from who is. In an emailed statement, Sonos doubled down on its assertion that its tech is at the heart of what makes Google’s smart speakers—which are much cheaper than any Sonos—tick. And it’s not just smart speakers that Sonos is peeved about. The lawsuit also lists a wide array of Google’s smart home gadgets like Chromecast Audio and Chromecast with Google TV, as well as Pixel phones, the Pixel Slate, and Pixel Go laptops. Sonos also previously expressed it believes Amazon also ripped off its tech in the same way.

“This lawsuit illustrates the depth and breadth of our intellectual property as well as our continued innovation, and indicates the degree to which we believe Google has copied our innovations,” a Sonos spokesperson told Gizmodo in an emailed statement. “Google has chosen to double down on its disregard for IP and smaller American inventors and we believe it is vitally important that Sonos, both for its own sake and for that of other smaller companies, stand up to monopolists who try to copy and subsidize their way to further domination.”

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As far as official statements go, woof! Hot damn, shots fired. It’s true that Google is under intensified antitrust scrutiny, especially with regard to some of its more ham-fisted practices and dominance over search. While Google is a much bigger company, Sonos is a well-known brand that regularly tops reviewers’ best smart speaker lists, so painting itself as the avenger of the little guy is also...a lot. Though, Sonos’s point still carries merit in an age where Big Tech has no qualms about pushing around companies big and small to get its way.

In any case, Google isn’t letting Sonos’s barbs slide.

“Sonos has made misleading statements about our history of working together,” Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, told Gizmodo. “Our technology and devices were designed independently. We deny their claims vigorously, and will be defending against them.”

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It’s hard to say which company will prevail in this legal drama. That said, we love Sonos continuing to spill the tea right before Google’s Big Day.

Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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