Computers & Electronics

Sonos wins patent infringement judgement against Google

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  • Jan 8th, 2022 6:58 pm
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Sonos wins patent infringement judgement against Google

https://gizmodo.com/google-infringed-on ... 1848318120

This case was primarily about the Sonos patent on stereo WiFi pairing. In theory Google will now have to revise or replace all their infringing products, although in practice that probably won't happen.

Sonos has previously said they would go after Amazon if successful against Google.
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Feb 24, 2003
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Google will probably appeal while it works to revise its products.

I don't think this will be resolved for years.
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Apr 24, 2006
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Good for Sonos for standing up for itself.
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As many people have known for a couple of weeks, this has broken speaker "groups" on Google devices. You can't verbally command media to play on established groups anymore. You can cast to a group using a Hub (and likely a phone, but haven't tried). Hope that Google can come up with a solution.
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Jan 31, 2007
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I dont understand why Google doesnt just buy Sonos? I know google might have "Stolen" the product. But I really hate the way Sonos works and their products overpriced. I am super happy with the cheap google audio products.
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jayoldschool wrote: As many people have known for a couple of weeks, this has broken speaker "groups" on Google devices. You can't verbally command media to play on established groups anymore. You can cast to a group using a Hub (and likely a phone, but haven't tried). Hope that Google can come up with a solution.
"Google changes speaker group controls following Sonos patent fight
If you've got multiple Google smart speakers set up, you'll now have to adjust volume one by one."
https://www.cnet.com/home/smart-home/go ... ent-fight/
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EEE2 wrote: I dont understand why Google doesnt just buy Sonos? I know google might have "Stolen" the product. But I really hate the way Sonos works and their products overpriced. I am super happy with the cheap google audio products.
I have both Sonos and Google speakers, but I only use the Sonos ones in a stereo pair. Personally I think the Sonos patent is without merit. They had to solve the problem of WiFi streaming to separated stereo speakers while maintaining close timing for stereo imaging. That's a problem that any competent engineering team can easily solve, and many have done so independently, including Sonos, Google, Amazon, and Bose. Sonos just happened to do it first and took out a patent on one method, which they are now using to claim royalties from everyone else who solved the problem independently by their own method. Some would argue that's exactly how patents are supposed to work. I would argue that they need a re-think on what constitutes "non-obvious" with patents.
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That is... exactly how the patent system works. Jurisprudence over the years has clarified patentability requirements (novelty, inventiveness and utility).

I know in the US the bar for inventiveness was lowered a bit many years ago when the US Supreme Court accepted "obvious to try" as an argument against patent validity.
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Scote64 wrote: I have both Sonos and Google speakers, but I only use the Sonos ones in a stereo pair. Personally I think the Sonos patent is without merit. They had to solve the problem of WiFi streaming to separated stereo speakers while maintaining close timing for stereo imaging. That's a problem that any competent engineering team can easily solve, and many have done so independently, including Sonos, Google, Amazon, and Bose. Sonos just happened to do it first and took out a patent on one method, which they are now using to claim royalties from everyone else who solved the problem independently by their own method. Some would argue that's exactly how patents are supposed to work. I would argue that they need a re-think on what constitutes "non-obvious" with patents.
Thank you
This helps me better understand things. I hate how sonos functions tho, their app is really horrible.
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Scote64 wrote: "Google changes speaker group controls following Sonos patent fight
If you've got multiple Google smart speakers set up, you'll now have to adjust volume one by one."
https://www.cnet.com/home/smart-home/go ... ent-fight/
There is a workaround that I can confirm. Start playing something on a speaker. Go to your Hub. Tap the media, then tap the group you want to play it on. That will get it playing on the group. You can then adjust the volume on the entire group using the Hub screen. Voice controls won't work.
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I am with Google on this one. Ideas and concepts should not be allowed to be patented. Wireless streaming music on multiple Internet connected devices is an idea. Just like a platform to book movie tickets using Internet is an idea. These should not be allowed to be patented. The HOW of these ideas can be patented. And pretty sure Google is not stealing their code.
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IndyBeak wrote: I am with Google on this one. Ideas and concepts should not be allowed to be patented. Wireless streaming music on multiple Internet connected devices is an idea. Just like a platform to book movie tickets using Internet is an idea. These should not be allowed to be patented. The HOW of these ideas can be patented. And pretty sure Google is not stealing their code.
The counter-argument is that an inventor is the first to come up a novel concept, designs and builds the first working demonstration, and turns it into a successful commercial venture with the aid of a lot of investment to launch a novel product and sell it to the skeptical market. And then along comes a bigger established company who launches their own competitive product with none of the up-front costs to cover and says "not infringing, our lawyers say ours is just different enough to escape your patent, and if you don't agree, go ahead and sue us - we have more lawyers and more money to spend on them".

The problem is to find the balance in this. Which is why there's usually some sort of settlement for an intermediate amount of money.
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Scote64 wrote: The counter-argument is that an inventor is the first to come up a novel concept, designs and builds the first working demonstration, and turns it into a successful commercial venture with the aid of a lot of investment to launch a novel product and sell it to the skeptical market. And then along comes a bigger established company who launches their own competitive product with none of the up-front costs to cover and says "not infringing, our lawyers say ours is just different enough to escape your patent, and if you don't agree, go ahead and sue us - we have more lawyers and more money to spend on them".

The problem is to find the balance in this. Which is why there's usually some sort of settlement for an intermediate amount of money.
Certainly a valid argument. However I dont think it translates really well when it comed to software systems.
If Sonos had invented a new wireless technology, or a new peering system for their speakers to talk to each other, and then patented that system, it would have made more sense.
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IndyBeak wrote: Certainly a valid argument. However I dont think it translates really well when it comed to software systems.
If Sonos had invented a new wireless technology, or a new peering system for their speakers to talk to each other, and then patented that system, it would have made more sense.
So you're saying that software isn't "real", and as an intangible thing it can't be patented, even when it is the valuable product of a unique insight and a lot of work? Next you'll be saying that software developers shouldn't be paid because their creation is abstract!

Well actually, our stone-age patent law (as created by lawyers and politicians who barely grasp concepts like the wheel or fire) agree with you about patenting software. Fortunately software can be patented if it is made tangible in the form of a computer system that accomplishes a task (ref: https://www.dwt.com/blogs/startup-law-b ... t-software).
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Scote64 wrote:
So you're saying that software isn't "real", and as an intangible thing it can't be patented, even when it is the valuable product of a unique insight and a lot of work? Next you'll be saying that software developers shouldn't be paid because their creation is abstract!

Well actually, our stone-age patent law (as created by lawyers and politicians who barely grasp concepts like the wheel or fire) agree with you about patenting software. Fortunately software can be patented if it is made tangible in the form of a computer system that accomplishes a task (ref: https://www.dwt.com/blogs/startup-law-b ... t-software).
That's totally not what I said. I said when it comes to software and hardware tech,generic ideas should not be patented. The implementation should be. As I said, if Sonos developed a new wireless protocol to achieve it, they should totally be allowed to patent. Here they are saying that the very idea of multi room music streaming should be patented for their benefit, irrespective of how different companies achieve it. As I said, a close analogy would be Netflix patenting the very idea of VOD streaming. Or Plex patenting "Watch together" service. Or Tesla patenting the autonomous driving concept.

Not sure where you got the idea that I am against software patenting. Anyway, to each their own. I am firmly with Google on this one. May they bury greedy Sonos with all their might.
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EEE2 wrote: I dont understand why Google doesnt just buy Sonos? I know google might have "Stolen" the product. But I really hate the way Sonos works and their products overpriced. I am super happy with the cheap google audio products.
Sonos is overpriced garbage, and while I've admittedly not seen the real details here of what Google did, sounds to me more like patent trolling on the part of Sonos just because that seems like something they would do. It's a similar formula to Crapple, who makes the worst overpriced garbage in the world, and is also well-known for patent trolling.

Regardless if the decision here ends up standing, I'd imagine Sonos is going to go after everyone and their grandma for this and then probably start on other things they happened to have hoarded patents on...
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Scote64 wrote: Well actually, our stone-age patent law (as created by lawyers and politicians who barely grasp concepts like the wheel or fire) agree with you about patenting software. Fortunately software can be patented if it is made tangible in the form of a computer system that accomplishes a task (ref: https://www.dwt.com/blogs/startup-law-b ... t-software).
Patent laws go back centuries and were originally developed to protect physical inventions. Obviously, one could have never invisaged the computer age as we know it today, even just 50 years ago.

Software was never prohibited from being patented per se but because of this need to have it tied to some physical form, many people mistakenly thought you couldn’t get a software patent. Amazon’s “one click” patent for online purchasing from 20 years ago really changed the landscape for this technology field.
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Classic RIAA/MPAA playbook - Use patent trolling to subsidize profits on their shitty products.

Looks like Sonos is just going to get shut out of device ecosystems, they can use their patent trolling winnings to kick around a while longer until they have no more marketshare.
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That's why Sonos is so expensive and horrible. They need to pay their lawyers.
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A lot of negativity here towards Sonos!

It would be fair to say that Sonos is in some ways much like Apple: they have their own unique vision of how things should be done, and they're too arrogant to compromise. You can either pay their premium price to do things the Sonos way, or else they don't want you as a customer. Given that, you can see why they want to sue when other companies copy their best features, especially ones that they developed first and got a patent on.

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