ITC judge preliminarily rules Google infringed on five Sonos patents

The decision isn't final until the full ITC body decides on the matter later this year.

Billy Steele / Engadget

Sonos has won an early victory in its ongoing legal battle with Google. On Friday, a federal judge with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) made a preliminary decision related to a complaint the company had filed against Google in early 2020, alleging the search giant had infringed on five of its patents. Validating all five claims, the judge said Google should not be allowed to import devices that violate the intellectual property of Sonos.

"Today the ALJ has found all five of Sonos' asserted patents to be valid and that Google infringes on all five patents. We are pleased the ITC has confirmed Google's blatant infringement of Sonos' patented inventions," said Sonos chief legal officer Eddie Lazarus. "This decision re-affirms the strength and breadth of our portfolio, marking a promising milestone in our long-term pursuit to defend our innovation against misappropriation by Big Tech monopolies."

As The New York Times notes, the judge's decision isn't final. The entire ITC body has to make a final ruling before it mandates any remedial measures. With a meeting scheduled for December 13th, that won't happen for another few months.

"We do not use Sonos' technology, and we compete on the quality of our products and the merits of our ideas," said Google spokesperson José Castañeda. "We disagree with this preliminary ruling and will continue to make our case in the upcoming review process."

Sonos first sued Google in early 2020. It accused the company of copying some of the technologies most critical to its speakers, including its Trueplay tuning tool. In patent disputes, companies typically use simultaneous ITC complaints to force the hand of their opponent since the body tends to resolve matters faster than a traditional court. Google subsequently countersued Sonos, claiming the company had been using its search, software, networking and audio processing technologies without paying the proper licensing fees. The feud escalated later that same year when Sonos filed a second suit.