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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Google forced to change the way Nest speakers work after trade commission ruling for Sonos [Update]

Cast-enabled speakers also losing speaker group volume controls

Sonos and Google have been at war with each other for years, as the former company has alleged some major copyright and patent infringement. As lawsuits and allegations of piracy have piled up, Google has been forced to make changes to its software in response. The company was dealt its biggest blow yet, as Sonos won a major court ruling that could, in turn, result in import restrictions on some of Google’s most popular products, but how Google’s smart speakers work in the meantime. Yes, it will force a change.

As The New York Times reports, the US International Trade Commission handed Sonos a victory today, finding Google guilty of infringing intellectual property from Sonos without permission. The decision follows preliminary results released last August, in which a judge found Google in violation of the Tariff Act of 1930. Today’s events represent the final decision of USITC; The matter now goes to the President for review for a possible veto.

ANDROIDpolice video of the day

Assuming the Biden administration takes no action, the ban on importing the infringing equipment will go into effect in 60 days unless the infringing patent is enforced. Part of ITC’s decision involved carving out those exact frauds, and Google told The Verge that “we do not expect any impact on our ability to import or sell our products,” nor will customers will “experience any disruption.” In a forum post below, Google lays out some of the upcoming changes to the Nest speaker that will allow it to avoid the full import ban.

Although a full list of affected devices has yet to be released, Sonos initially requested the USITC to block Google’s smart speakers, Pixel phones and Chromebooks, and all Chromecast models. It’s unclear whether all of these devices still fall under this restriction – after all, Google initially removed the casting volume control from Android 12 due to its legal troubles. However, the feature made its way to the phone in this week’s January patch, presumably in a way that no longer infringes Sonos’ patents. Sonos told The Verge that Google hardware devices affected by the ruling include recent Pixel phones such as the Pixel 4 as well as the Nest Hub, Nest Mini, Chromecast dongles and any Pixel Chromebooks with YouTube Music pre-installed.

The company may be working behind the scenes to remove the infringing software from other devices as well. However, as Bloomberg reports, Sonos submitted a filing on December 2 saying that Google has yet to implement any of its software changes to its products.

Sonos gave us the following statement on today’s verdict:

“We appreciate that ITC has conclusively validated five Sonos patents in this case and has clearly ruled that Google infringes all five. This is a victory for the entire board that deals with the patent matters. This is extremely rare and underscores the hollowness of Google’s refusal to copy and power Sonos’ extensive patent portfolio. These Sonos patents cover Sonos’ groundbreaking invention of hugely popular home audio features, including controlling home audio systems. , synchronization of multiple speakers, independent volume control of different speakers, and stereo pairing of speakers.

It is likely that Google will be able to degrade or eliminate product features in a way that bypasses the import restriction imposed by ITC. But while Google may sacrifice the consumer experience in an effort to circumvent this import restriction, its products will still infringe dozens of Sonos patents, continue to accrue wrongdoing, and continue to accrue damages caused to Sonos. Alternatively, Google – as other companies have already done – could pay reasonable royalties for technologies it abuses.”

In the meantime, here’s what Google had to offer us about today’s verdict:

“While we disagree with today’s decision, we will ensure that our shared customers have the best possible experience using our products and do not experience any disruption. We will seek further review and continue to defend ourselves against Sonos’ frivolous claims about our partnerships and intellectual property.

We’ll have to wait and see if the Biden administration is a big enough fan of Google to veto today’s ban.


Google changes settings to accommodate trade restrictions

After ITC issued its decision, Google has responded by listing the upcoming changes to Android phones and its Nest and Cast-enabled speakers as a result of the decision. In a Google Nest Community forum post, the company says that the speaker group volume control functionality will be missing, forcing users to manually change the volume of its connected speakers. Until now, Google allowed users to group speaker pairs from individual Cast-enabled speakers and adjust the volume in sync, but this all-in-one volume adjustment was infringing by Google as one of the patents infringed. was very closely for , according to ITC .

Google also says that “a small group of users” will need a third-party app called a “device utility app,” or DAU, to install and update some Nest speakers, possibly because the in-app update process also works in Sonos. violates one of the Patent. The full list of changes is below:

  • To adjust the volume on your speaker groups, you’ll need to adjust each speaker individually, rather than using the group volume controller. You won’t even be able to change the volume of your speaker group using your phone’s physical volume buttons anymore.
  • Unless you have a speaker group with other brands of Cast-based devices like JBL or Lenovo, most speaker groups should continue to function as expected, they should be on a Cast firmware version 1.52.2722222 or higher. Check out this article on how to find your device’s firmware version or contact your device manufacturer.
  • A small group of users will be required to use the ‘Device Utility App’ (DUA) to complete the installation and update of the product. You may receive a prompt to download and run DUA, and this will ensure that your device is connected to Wi-Fi and receives the most updated software version.

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