Google countersues Sonos over speaker tech patents

Sonos fires back by accusing the search giant of "strong arm tactics."

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

Google and Sonos are in a patent battle.


Google on Thursday filed a countersuit against Sonos, alleging the wireless speaker company infringed on five of its patents when it comes to search features for music libraries, noise cancellation, wireless connectivity and more.

The complaint follows a lawsuit Sonos filed in January, claiming the search giant stole its technology when the two companies partnered to make sure Google's music service worked well with Sonos speakers. The Santa Barbara, California-based company alleged Google infringed on five patents, including tech that lets people listen to audio in different rooms. 

"Sonos is actively infringing Google's intellectual property," Google said in the lawsuit, which was filed in a San Francisco federal court. "Sonos has no license to use Google's patents. Because Sonos refuses to cease its infringement, and is unwilling to recognize the value of Google's technology through a license, Google has filed this suit to protect its intellectual property."

The dustup with Sonos comes as Google faces intense scrutiny from federal and state officials over its size and competitive practices. The search giant is under antitrust investigation by the US Department of Justice, as well as a coalition of state attorneys general, led by Texas AG Ken Paxton. Lawsuits from the groups, filed either jointly or separate, are expected within the next few months.

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence has been a vocal critic of Big Tech. In January, he took aim at Google and other tech giants at a hearing for the House Antitrust Committee. In response to Google's countersuit, he again criticized the company's size and said it has "no shame."

"Instead of simply addressing the merits of our case, and paying us what we're owed, Google has chosen to use their size and breadth to try and find areas in which they can retaliate. We look forward to winning our original case, and this newly filed case as well," Spence said in a statement. He compared Google's "strong arm tactics" to those of the "robber barons of old."

Google said it "rarely" goes after companies for patent infringement, but felt compelled to do so against Sonos.

"We are disappointed that Sonos has made false claims about our work together and technology," Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said in a statement. "We are reluctantly defending ourselves by asserting our patent rights."