Google has been ordered to pay Sonos $32.5 million for infringing on the company’s smart speaker patent. A jury verdict issued in a San Francisco courtroom on Friday found that Google’s smart speakers and media players infringed on one of two Sonos patents at issue.
The legal battle started in 2020 when Sonos accused Google of copying its patented multiroom audio technology after the companies partnered in 2013. Sonos went on to win its case at the US International Trade Commission, resulting in a limited import ban on some of the Google devices in question. Google has also had to pull some features from its lineup of smart speakers and smart displays.
Image: United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Sonos didn’t come out of the case completely victorious, however, as the jury decided that Google’s Home app didn’t infringe on a separate patent filed by Sonos. The judge also told jurors to “disregard a $90 million damages estimate from a Sonos expert witness, saying he had decided that some of the evidence provided was inadmissible,” Law360 reports.
The decision will go down as an embarrassing defeat for Google, but both companies were the subject of blunt criticism from Judge William Alsup, who has presided over many tech company courtroom battles. Alsup expressed frustration that this case ever went to trial in the first place and the two sides were unable to settle. He said it was “emblematic of the worst of patent litigation.” He also noted the technical jargon surrounding the patents at issue, at one point checking with jurors to make sure they hadn’t fallen asleep, according to Law360.