Google does not agree with Sonos’ patent decision and changes code • The Register

The US International Trade Commission has said Google has infringed five of Sonos ‘patents – and has banned Google from importing products into the United States that steal intellectual property from Sonos’ home speakers.

Here is the chilling decision by ITC Secretary Lisa Barton this week:

These patents describe methods for managing the volume of multiple audio players on a network from a controller-type hub, pairing players, etc.

Eddie Lazarus, Sonos General Counsel Recount The New York Times: “We appreciate that the ITC has definitively validated the five Sonos patents at issue in this case and has ruled unequivocally that Google is in violation of all five. It is a general victory which is extremely rare in patent cases. “

Google manufactures its equipment in China and ships it to the United States. While the hefty decision apparently affects Google’s ability to import a range of network-connected music playback devices, from its Chromecast and Google Nest smartphones to Google Home and Pixel, in reality, Google is unlikely to be affected. by the ban, which takes effect in 60 days.

That’s because after a warning shot from the ITC last year that Google was potentially violating Sonos’ patents, Google vowed to make changes to its software and firmware to avoid infringing this intellectual property.

These changes have been accepted by ITC and, once in place, Google can continue to ship its electronic devices. The changes include the removal of features described to some extent by Sonos’ patents.

“While we do not agree with today’s ruling, we appreciate that the International Trade Commission has approved our modified designs and we do not anticipate any impact on our ability to import or sell our products,” a Google spokesperson confirmed. The register.

A die changes Removes the ability to adjust the volume of a group of Google powered speakers using a centralized Google Home mobile app. Customers will also not be able to ask Google’s smart assistant to automatically raise and lower the volume.

“You will have to adjust each speaker individually instead of using the group volume controller. You will also no longer be able to change the volume of your speaker group using the physical volume button on your phone,” Google noted.

Another change occurs when configuring devices that already shipped with infringing firmware: “A small group of users will need to use the ‘Device Utility’ (DUA) application to complete installation and product updates. You may receive a prompt to download and run DUA, and it will ensure that your device is connected to Wi-Fi and is receiving the most recent version of the software. “

Sonos has decided to sue Google after the internet giant refused to pay royalties for the use of its technology. While the ITC’s decision in this case is final, the legal row between the two companies is not quite over yet.

Google has counter-attacked Sonos for allegedly infringing five of its own patents in a tit-for-tat case filed in northern California. In return, Sonos filed another lawsuit in West Texas, claiming that Google had infringed five other patents.

“We will seek further scrutiny and continue to defend against frivolous claims made by Sonos about our partnership and our intellectual property,” a Google spokesperson told us.

Sonos has not commented further at the time of posting. ®


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Steven L. Nielsen