By Nathalie Voit
A U.S. trade court determined tech giant Google infringed on Sonos speaker technology in a Jan. 6 ruling. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued an import ban on Google for products that violate the speaker manufacturer’s intellectual property, the first of its kind from the trade agency for Google.
After two years of lengthy deliberations within the commission, the ITC found Google guilty of five counts of patent infringement. Effective in 56 days, Google will be subject to an import ban that prevents the company from selling any products that infringe on Sonos’s patents, the notice states.
The commission also issued a cease-and-desist order against Google. The notice will now go to President Joe Biden, who has 60 days to veto the order.
“We appreciate that the I.T.C. has definitively validated the five Sonos patents at issue in this case and ruled unequivocally that Google infringes all five,” said the chief legal officer at Sonos Eddie Lazarus in a statement, according to The New York Times. “That is an across-the-board win that is surpassingly rare in patent cases.”
The investigation began on Feb. 11, 2020, after Sonos filed a complaint to the agency. Sonos accused Google of violating section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding unfair competition from imported products that infringe on U.S. patents, trademarks, or copyrights.
In August, a preliminary ruling issued by a judge found Google guilty of the violations, stating the company should be subject to the import blockage. Since then, the full commission met to discuss whether to uphold or reverse the results of the original finding.
A representative for Google told Bloomberg it was working on alternative designs for its popular products after the preliminary verdict last August to ensure Google complied with intellectual property protections.
“While we disagree with today’s decision, we will ensure our shared customers have the best experience using our products and do not experience any disruption,” said Google spokesperson José Castañeda. “We will seek further review and continue to defend ourselves against Sonos’ frivolous claims about our partnership and intellectual property.”
The order does not prevent Google from appealing the ruling after the presidential review period.
Google Home smart speakers, Pixel smartphones and computers, and the Chromecast streaming video device are among some of the infringing products likely to be affected.