If you remember, Sonos sued Google for infringing five Sonos smart speaker patent back in January 2020, and that case went as long as we could remember. Now the US International Trade Commission issued their final statement, that Google did infringe Sonos Patent. Now losing to Sonos would have meant that Google must stop manufacturing or get their product lineup banned – such as Nest Audio, Chromecast and even the Pixel line for that matter, in US that is but Google decided to dumb down their products by downgrading via updates that will remove the infringing features from end user’s product.

Why Google Lost Sonos Patent Case?

So, if you are wondering why your Google Home isn’t really behaving well when you try to control music, this is why. In fact, during the interview with the Chief Legal Officer at Sonos, Eddie Lazarus, said the following in The New York Times: “We appreciate that the ITC has definitively validated the five Sonos patents at issue in this case and ruled unequivocally that Google infringes all five. That is an across-the-board win that is surpassingly rare in patent cases.”

That said, Google Nest Team has even issued an upcoming Speaker change where the functionality will be limited. You can read the statement below really:

Hey everyone,
Due to a recent legal ruling, we’re making some changes to how you set up your devices and the Speaker Group functionality will work moving forward. If you’re using the Speaker Group feature to control the volume in the Google Home app, by voice with the Google Assistant, or directly on your Nest Hub display, you’ll notice a few changes:
To adjust volume on your speaker groups, you will need to adjust each speaker individually instead of using the group volume controller. You’ll also no longer be able to change your Speaker Group volume using your phone’s physical volume button.
Most Speaker Groups should continue functioning as expected unless you have a speaker group containing other brands of Cast-based devices, like JBL or Lenovo, they need to be on 1.52.272222 or higher Cast firmware version. Check out this article on how to find your device’s firmware version or contact your device maker.
A small set of users will need to use the ‘Device Utility app’ (DUA) to complete product installation and updates. You may receive a prompt to download and run DUA, and it will ensure that your device is connected to Wi-Fi and receives the most updated software version.
We will continue to support our users and work to minimize any additional changes.
Thanks, Google Nest team

Honestly, this is a huge hit to users who rely on their home assistants very much and that includes myself. In fact, users are sharing their frustrations in the comment section. Google stripping the feature is really a huge disappointment. If you are wondering, why not Google pay royalties to Sonos, well, you are right – in fact, Sonos said that they’d like Google to pay royalties for its patent instead rather than screwing consumers’ experience.

But for now, we aren’t too certain if this will even happen, knowing how Google tends to behave: killing features or services that was completely all right for no reason. But let’s just hope that Google does the right thing and makes life easier. 

Source: Ars Technica