Google loses patent battle to Sonos, products can get an import ban

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TL;DR

  • A US trade commission has determined that Google has infringed Sonos patents on several products.
  • The committee also stated that Google is not allowed to bring the affected products to the US.
  • Affected products include Pixel phones, Chromecast devices, and Google Home speakers.

Now the US International Trade Commission has ruled (h/t: New York Times) that Google has indeed infringed all five Sonos patents in question. The court also ruled that Google may not import products that infringe these patents. These products include the Chromecast, Google Home speakers, Pixel phones, and Pixelbook computers (which are usually made in China before being imported to the US).

The import ban is believed to start in 60 days, but the matter is subject to a presidential review. Nevertheless, this latest ruling confirms a preliminary finding by a committee judge in August 2021 that Google should receive an import ban.

Google and Sonos respond

Some patents relate to using a phone’s volume buttons to control the volume of connected devices such as speakers and other devices. Google even removed this capability in the Android 12 beta, with one Googler citing a “legal issue” and forcing consumers to use an on-screen interface instead.

Google told the New York Times in a statement that it disagreed with the ruling but that it would work to avoid any disruption related to the use, sale and import of the affected products.

Meanwhile, Sonos noted in a statement that Google had been found guilty of infringing on all five patents.

“That’s an overall win that is surprisingly rare in patent cases,” said a representative.

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