ITC says in preliminary ruling that Google infringed upon five Sonos patents

Sonos said Friday's ruling is the first milestone in what's sure to be a lengthy legal dispute.

On Friday, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) issued a preliminary ruling in a patent dispute between Sonos and Google, finding Google infringed upon five valid patents belonging to the smaller audio company. 

Sonos first filed suit against Google in the federal court system in January 2020. Sonos said Friday's ruling is the first milestone in what's sure to be a lengthy legal dispute. 

"Today, the [Administrative Law Judge] has found all five of Sonos' asserted patents to be valid and that Google infringes on all five patents," Sonos Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus said in a statement provided to ZDNet. "We are pleased the ITC has confirmed Google's blatant infringement of Sonos' patented inventions. This decision re-affirms the strength and breadth of our portfolio, marking  a promising milestone in our long-term pursuit to defend our innovation against misappropriation by Big Tech monopolies."

Specifically, an ITC judge ruled that Google violated the Tariff Act of 1930 when it imported to the US and sold certain audio players and controllers, as well as their respective components. Sonos has asked the ITC to issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders against Google. 

Sonos was a pioneer in networked audio, but its speakers have been overshadowed by the Google Home and Amazon Echo in recent years. Google and Amazon were able to offer their smart speakers for a fraction of the cost of a Sonos speaker, flooding the market with devices as a means of bringing customers into their respective digital ecosystems. 

In addition to complaining to the ITC, Sonos also filed suit against Google in a federal district court last year, and its CEO Patrick Spence testified against Google before a US House antitrust subcommittee. 

Google, meanwhile, countersued Sonos last year.