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Sonos to Google: We're Not Going to Take This Anymore

The speaker company accuses Google of stealing its patents
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2020 3:30 PM CST

(Newser) – Think Big Tech is taking over? So does Sonos, and it's taking the claim to court. The audio company filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Google for allegedly violating five of its speaker patents, the New York Times reports. "Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology," says Sonos CEO Patrick Spence, who insists he had "no choice but to litigate." Behind the lawsuit is a multi-year relationship between the two companies. Sonos scored big in 2013 when Google allowed Google Play to work directly on Sonos wireless speakers, but for that to function, Sonos had to hand over its speaker designs—which Google allegedly stole in order to build and sell its own less-expensive speakers.

Sonos claims Amazon also stole patents for its smart speakers, but Sonos couldn't afford to sue both tech giants at once. The deeper issue is that Sonos—which employs about 1,500 people and sells over $1 billion in speakers annually—relies on both giants and could easily get squeezed. For example, Sonos speakers include the option of using either Google or Amazon assistants; Sonos also runs its business using Gmail and Amazon's cloud service. But in speaking up, Sonos isn't alone: Spotify has accused Apple of punishing its iPhone app while competing with it, and Elastic, a software company, has sued Amazon for allegedly violating its trademark. As for the Sonos suit, Google and Amazon deny everything. See the lawsuit at the Verge. (Read more Google stories.)

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