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US court allows Google speaker imports in Sonos patent fight

Post Time:2024-04-09 Source:Reuters Author:Blake Brittain Views:

April 8 (Reuters) - Redesigned versions of Google's smart speakers and other devices do not violate Sonos' patent rights and can be imported into the United States, a U.S. appeals court affirmed on Monday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a U.S. trade tribunal's decision that Google's redesigns of products, including Google Home speakers, Pixel phones and Nest Hub smart displays, were sufficient to avoid infringing Sonos' multi-room wireless audio patents.

The court also affirmed that the original versions of the devices infringed Sonos' patents.

Sonos said in a statement that the ruling confirms that Google is a "widespread infringer of Sonos's patented inventions that underlie wireless home audio."

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.

Google and Sonos have been embroiled in a sprawling intellectual property dispute over smart-speaker technology that has included lawsuits in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The companies previously worked together to integrate Mountain View, California-based Google's streaming music service into Sonos products.

Sonos won a $32.5 million patent-infringement verdict against Google last year in California federal court, which a federal judge overturned months later. Google has countered with its own U.S. patent lawsuits against Sonos.

Sonos asked the U.S. International Trade Commission in 2020 to block Google from importing products that it said infringed its patents. The ITC determined in 2022 that Google violated five Sonos patents and banned the tech giant from importing infringing devices, but it also said Google could import products that it had redesigned to leave out the patented technology.

Sonos complained in its appeal to the Federal Circuit that the decision allowed Google to "continue to import every one of the accused products."

Google asked the appeals court to affirm that the redesigns did not infringe and reverse the infringement ruling for its original designs.

A three-judge Federal Circuit panel rejected both companies' appeals on Monday, agreeing with Google that its redesigned products did not infringe and with Sonos that the originals infringed and its patents were valid.

The case is Sonos Inc v. ITC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 22-1421.