On Monday, a San Francisco court trial will pit Sonos Inc. against Alphabet’s Google over allegations that Google stole Sonos’ copyrighted smart-speaker technology in wireless audio products like Google Home and Chromecast Audio.
The lawsuit is a piece of a much larger intellectual property dispute between the former business partners that also spans legal actions in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
According to a Google court filing, Sonos has requested $90 million in damages from Google in the San Francisco case, down from $3 billion when U.S. District Judge William Alsup limited the case. According to Sonos, Google violated two of its multi-room wireless audio patents.
The issue involves “some very specific features that are not commonly used,” according to Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda, and Sonos “mischaracterized our partnership and technology.”
Sonos refuses to offer any comments on the argument.
Previously, the businesses collaborated to include Google’s streaming music service into Sonos products. In 2020, Sonos filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google in Los Angeles and before the U.S. International Trade Commission, alleging that the internet giant had stolen its technology while they were working together.
A temporary import ban on specific Google products was granted to Sonos by the ITC last year; Google has since appealed. As retaliation, Google has filed its own patent litigation in California and before the ITC.
Alsup has been critical of both businesses. He described their attacks on each other’s expert testimony last month, saying they were “emblematic of the worst of patent litigation” and that “much ink was spilled for little purpose.”
He noted the “enormous” resources already used on the issue in a 2020 order.
The judge observed, “By the time this case is over, our parties’ legal expenses will probably have been able to build dozens of schools, pay all the teachers, and give the kids hot lunches.”
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