The US Customs Service has ruled that Google continues to infringe Sonos’ patents, in violation of an import ban imposed by the International Trade Commission (ITC).
Sonos chief legal officer Eddie Lazarus said in a statement, “Today, the U.S. Customs Service has publicly ruled that Google is in violation of an import ban, which the ITC has found that a host of Google’s products are in five Infringes on a basic Sonos home audio patent.”
“The US Customs Service confirmed that Google was in violation of the import ban and continued to import infringing products in violation of that ban. Another example of this kind of disregard. We are committed to defending our IP and will continue to do so on behalf of our technology and broader innovation landscape.”
Sonos sued Google for patent infringement in 2020 after the two worked together on a smart speaker. During several legal battles in the case, Sonos came out on top. In January 2022, ITC ruled that Google could no longer import phones, laptops or speakers because they infringed five Sonos patents. Despite the ITC ban, Google continues to import these products for sale in the United States.
Sonos contacted US Customs and asked them to investigate why Google is still importing devices. In January 2022, Digital Music News reported Google smart hardware losing a wide range of features that had been baked into the ecosystem from day one. A shortlist of affected Google devices includes:
- google home mini
- nest mini
- Google Home
- nest audio
- Home Max
- home hub
- nest hub
- nest hub max
- chromecast audio
- nest wifi point
- chromecast ultra
- google tv
- Pixel Smartphones (All Generations)
The US Customs Service reports that the updates were made to avoid Sonos patent infringement. But the report also found that some or all of the devices infringe on at least two Sonos patents.
“To avoid further import exclusions, Google must either further reduce its customer experience or comply with the appropriate licensing agreement with Sonos,” a Sonos representative told Paul Thurot. That’s why Google has refused to license Sonos’ patents, and the Android smart speaker ecosystem could soon see further degradation if those patents are not licensed.