US jury says Google owes Sonos $32.5 million in smart speaker patent case

May 26 (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google must pay $32.5 million in damages for infringing one of smart speaker maker Sonos Inc’s (SONO.O) patents in its wireless audio devices, a federal court ruled jury in San Francisco on Friday.

The case is part of a sprawling intellectual property dispute between the former employees that includes other lawsuits in the US, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The companies previously worked together to integrate Google’s Mountain View, California-based streaming music service into Sonos products. Sonos first sued Google for patent infringement in Los Angeles and with the US International Trade Commission in 2020, accusing the tech giant of copying its technology during their collaboration in devices such as Google Home and Chromecast Audio.

Sonos won a limited import ban on some Google devices from the ITC last year, against which Google has appealed.

Google has resisted with its own patent lawsuits in California and at the ITC, accusing Sonos of incorporating the technology company’s technology into its smart speakers. Sonos calls Google’s lawsuits an “intimidation tactic” to “bring down a smaller competitor.”

Santa Barbara, California-based Sonos lost nearly a fifth of its market value earlier this month after cutting its revenue forecast.

The jury found that Google infringed one of the two Sonos patents at issue in the lawsuit. Sonos had previously asked the court for $90 million in damages, a request Google said in a lawsuit Sonos had reduced from $3 billion after U.S. District Judge William Alsup narrowed the case.

A Google spokesperson said Friday that the matter was a “close dispute over some very specific features that aren’t commonly used,” and that the company is considering next steps. Google also said it “has always developed technology independently and competed based on our ideas.”

A Sonos spokesperson said the ruling “reaffirms that Google is a serial infringer of our patent portfolio.”

Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington. Edited by David Bario, Rosalba O’Brien and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced law. Contact: 12029385713

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