Google has been ordered to pay Sonos $32.5 million for infringing on the company’s smart speaker patent. A jury verdict issued in a San Francisco courtroom on Friday found that Google’s smart speakers and media players infringed on one of two Sonos patents at issue.
Image: United States District Court for the Northern District of California
“This is a narrow dispute about some very specific features that are not commonly used,” Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels says in a statement to The Verge. “Of the six patents Sonos originally asserted, only one was found to be infringed, and the rest were dismissed as invalid or not infringed. We have always developed technology independently and competed on the merit of our ideas. We are considering our next steps.”
Sonos didn’t come out of the case completely victorious, however, as the jury decided that Google’s Home app didn’t infringe on a separate patent filed by Sonos. The judge also told jurors to “disregard a $90 million damages estimate from a Sonos expert witness, saying he had decided that some of the evidence provided was inadmissible,” Law360 reports.
The decision will go down as an embarrassing defeat for Google, but both companies were the subject of blunt criticism from Judge William Alsup, who has presided over many tech company courtroom battles. Alsup expressed frustration that this case ever went to trial in the first place and the two sides were unable to settle. He said it was “emblematic of the worst of patent litigation.” He also noted the technical jargon surrounding the patents at issue, at one point checking with jurors to make sure they hadn’t fallen asleep, according to Law360.
Update May 26th, 5:30PM ET: Updated to add a statement from a Google spokesperson.