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Google Infringed on Sonos Speaker Patents, Popular Products Now Subject to Import Ban The decision was finalized on Jan. 6, and it prohibits Google from importing products (many of which are manufactured in China) that violate Sonos's intellectual property.

By Amanda Breen

entrepreneur daily

The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed with Sonos's claims that Google copied its speaker technology, infringing on the audio developer's speaker and cast patents.

In August, the Commission announced its preliminary ruling in favor of Sonos. The decision was finalized on Jan. 6, and it prohibits Google from importing products (many of which are manufactured in China) that violate Sonos's intellectual property. According to the New York Times, Sonos has requested the Commission ban Google Home smart speakers, Pixel phones and computers and the Chromecast streaming video device. But it remains unclear how much the ban will actually hinder the importation of these products.

"While we disagree with today's decision, we appreciate that the International Trade Commission has approved our modified designs and we do not expect any impact to our ability to import or sell our products," Google spokesperson José Castaneda told Protocol, citing Commission-approved workarounds for the five patents that were first reported by Bloomberg in September.

Related: What Are 'Google Penalties,' and Why Do You Need to Avoid Them?

The Google Nest team announced some modifications to its speaker groups in response to the "recent legal ruling." Now, users will no longer be able to adjust the volume on all speakers in a group simultaneously. Other changes include firmware and software updates.

Sonos Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus responded to Google's design changes in a statement provided to Protocol, saying, "There is a possibility that Google will be able to degrade or eliminate product features in a way that circumvents the importation ban that the ITC has imposed. But while Google may sacrifice consumer experience in an attempt to circumvent this importation ban, its products will still infringe many dozens of Sonos patents, its wrongdoing will persist, and the damages owed Sonos will continue to accrue. Alternatively, Google can — as other companies have already done — pay a fair royalty for the technologies it has misappropriated."

Related: Google Engineers and Workers Have Formed a Union | Engadget

The dispute will be subject to presidential review in the 60-day interim before the import ban goes into effect.

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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