Sonos is suing Google as of Tuesday (Jan. 7), alleging that the tech giant infringed on their patents for music speakers, per reports in The New York Times.
The saga goes back to 2013, when Sonos and Google agreed that Google would design its music service to work easily with Sonos’ speakers.
Sonos, not thinking there was a downside as Google didn’t make speakers, handed over the blueprints for said speakers. But years later, Sonos executives feel like they were duped.
Sonos is now accusing Google of infringing on five patents, including for technology that lets wireless speakers connect and synchronize with one another.
Sonos executives say the lawsuit stems from a deeper issue of their forced total dependency on Google, Amazon and other larger tech companies. They claim that after Sonos advertised its speakers on Google and sold them on Amazon, Google and Amazon came out with their own speakers and undercut Sonos’ prices, essentially stealing their technology. Google and Amazon now sell as many speakers in a few months as Sonos sells in a year.
Though the lawsuit is only for five patents, Sonos believes that Google and Amazon each violated about 100 patents. They didn’t specify how much they are seeking in damages.
Patrick Spence, Sonos’ chief executive, said in a statement that Google had been “blatantly and knowingly” copying their technology, and had not shown any willingness to work with them on a solution. He added that the only reason they’re not suing Amazon is that the company can’t afford to take on two tech giants at the same time.
Google has begun to feel the heat from state attorney generals over the possible threat they pose to competitors. At a press conference last fall, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said that antitrust enforcers “cannot turn a blind eye” to the serious questions that Google’s dominance has raised. Delrahim and other AGs said they would look into whether Google had abused its power in the online advertising market.