US jury says Google owes Sonos $32.5 million in smart-speaker patent case


FILE PHOTO: The logo for Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) -Alphabet Inc's Google must pay $32.5 million in damages for infringing one of smart-speaker maker Sonos Inc's patents in its wireless audio devices, a San Francisco federal jury decided on Friday.

The case is part of a sprawling intellectual property dispute between the former collaborators that includes other 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 first sued Google for patent infringement in Los Angeles and at the U.S. International Trade Commission in 2020, accusing the tech giant of copying its technology during their collaboration in devices including Google Home and Chromecast Audio.

Sonos last year won a limited import ban on some Google devices from the ITC, which Google has appealed.

Google has countered with its own patent lawsuits in California and at the ITC, accusing Sonos of incorporating the tech company's technology into its smart speakers. Sonos has called Google's lawsuits an "intimidation tactic" to "grind down a smaller competitor."

Santa Barbara, California-based Sonos lost nearly one-fifth of its market valuation earlier this month after cutting its revenue forecast.

The jury found Google infringed one of Sonos' two patents at issue in the trial. Sonos had previously asked the court for $90 million in damages, a request Google said in a court filing that Sonos had reduced from $3 billion after U.S. District Judge William Alsup narrowed the case.

A Google spokesperson said on Friday the case was a "narrow dispute about some very specific features that are not commonly used," and that the company was considering its next steps. Google also said it has "always developed technology independently and competed on the merit of our ideas."

A Sonos spokesperson said the verdict "re-affirms that Google is a serial infringer of our patent portfolio."

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in WashingtonEditing by David Bario, Rosalba O'Brien and Matthew Lewis)

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