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A Google and Sonos Catfight Broke Smart Homes for Pixel Phones

Two cats fighting with the Google and Sonos logos over their heads.
Google is definitely an orange cat. Mariya Ilmaz/Shutterstock.com (Modified)

It’s been half a year since Sonos won a patent infringement suit against Google, yet the companies are still bickering. In a community blog post, Google says that some Pixel phones are unable to set up new or recently-disconnected smart home devices because of “an interruption caused by Sonos.”

These sorts of blog posts are Google’s go-to when diffusing customer rage. It’s the same thing we saw during Google’s spat with Roku—blame the other company for a problem, and hint that some users may get free replacement products.

Google hasn’t offered a real explanation for this problem, which it calls “temporary.” But in a statement to 9to5Google, it says that Sonos is continually using the legal system “in a way that deliberately creates issues” for users.

“Our support teams are on hand to fix any issues and if needed, we will send replacement devices or offer a Google store credit. Over the years, we have worked hard to make sure that our shared customers would have a positive experience and are disappointed that Sonos continues to use the legal system in a way that deliberately creates issues for these users.”

Here’s the thing; the FTC ruled that Google infringed on Sonos’ patents. Even if Sonos is intentionally turning Pixel owners’ range into a trump card, it’s working within the law. You know, the thing that Google didn’t do when it stole Sonos’ technology.

And while you should question everything that Google and Sonos say about this situation, it seems that Google could just pay to license Sonos’ technology and get the whole thing over with. At least, that’s what a Sonos representative tells Android Central.

“Google’s Pixel disruption is the direct result of its decision to infringe Sonos’ patents rather than license them, as the International Trade Commission ruled.”

“It is entirely Google’s decision to inflict further harm to its customers rather than behave responsibly, and it’s the height of arrogance to try to blame the company whose innovations it’s misappropriating.”

We don’t know the full details behind this case. Maybe Sonos is trying to charge a lot of money for these licenses or enforcing stipulations that won’t work for Google. Either way, customers shouldn’t need to deal with this kind of mess.

If this seems like a new trend, it’s because cloud-connected devices are growing more ubiquitous. Corporations can remove functionality from these products at any time or even break devices without alerting customers.

And that puts us in an interesting pickle. Before products were cloud-connected, a patent infringement case wouldn’t affect items that customers already purchased. Should court cases like the one between Google and Sonos have an impact on stuff we’ve already bought, or should it only apply to new items?

Source: Google via Android Authority

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »