Feds Open Investigation into Google Speakers Following Sonos Complaint

Google updates misconduct reporting amid employee discontent
Noah Berger/AP

The U.S. International Trade Commission has reportedly launched an investigation into audio players and controllers sold by Google following a complaint by rival smart speaker manufacturer Sonos Inc.

Reuters reports that following a complaint from smart speaker manufacturer Sonos, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has launched a patent investigation into Google. Sonos sent a complaint to the ITC last month in which the smart speaker maker alleged that Google’s import of certain audio players and controllers infringed on the manufacturer’s patents.

Sonos filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and testified to a House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee about its issues with Google. Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement on Thursday: “Sonos has made misleading statements about our history of working together. Our technology and devices were designed independently. We deny their claims vigorously, and will be defending against them.”

Breitbart News reported on Sonos’ complaint in January in which Sonos executives claimed that the company’s complaints go far beyond simple patent infringement, claiming that the legal action is a result of years of growing dependence on both Google and Amazon both of which used their leverage against Sonos to put pressure on the company.

Sonos’ speakers are integrated with both Amazon and Google’s virtual assistants, its speakers are advertised on Google and sold via Amazon. Sonos quietly became dissatisfied with its growing reliance on the tech giants, and over the past few months, Sonos Chief Executive Patrick Spence decided the company had to do something about the situation.

Spence said in a statement: “Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology. Despite our repeated and extensive efforts over the last few years, Google has not shown any willingness to work with us on a mutually beneficial solution. We’re left with no choice but to litigate.”

The ITC has previously issued orders banning products from entry into the U.S. on the grounds that they infringe on U.S. patents. But many companies subject to these bans have continued to import their products by redesigning them to avoid using patented technology.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com


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