Google reverses change to Nest speaker groups following Sonos win

The Google logo at Google's Pier 57 building in New York City
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is celebrating a win against its multi-year patent dispute against Sonos, which sees its previous $32.5 million verdict tossed out.
  • The judge deemed Sonos' patents "invalid" as the company waited far too long to speak up about a possible infringement after Google debuted its version.
  • Google is now able to return several multi-room features back to its Nest speakers and Chromecast devices, which will arrive around Thursday for Android.

Sonos and Google have gone back and forth with a certain patent dispute for a few years. However, it looks like all the shouting is done as a federal judge sides with Google, granting it a win against the audio company, per a Keyword blog post.

The judge has rejected two more of Sonos' patents for being "invalid" which directly impacts Google's Nest Smart Speakers' ability to seamlessly group together. This essentially means that the previous verdict, which set Google on the path of upchucking $32.5 million, no longer matters.

Moreover, "this was not a case of an inventor leading the industry to something new," the court added. "This was a case of the industry-leading with something new and, only then, an inventor coming out of the woodwork to say that he had come up with the idea first — wringing fresh claims to read on a competitor’s products from an ancient application."

For the timeline's sake, it was discovered that Google started introducing its own multi-room technology for its devices in 2015, but Sonos waited until 2019 to pursue the infringement claim and waited an additional year to roll out the technology on its own speaker devices.

Throughout the dispute, Google faced an import ban for several of its products in 2022 following the ITC's decision to side with Sonos. The company also had to grapple with reducing the quality of its Nest speakers and Chromecast as a result.

Following Google's win, it was quick to begin bringing those features back to its consumers, according to a Nest community blog post. Google stated it was "happy to share" that it'll soon return the ability for its speakers to belong to multiple speaker groups. The update will roll out over the next 48 hours (so, Thursday) for the Google Home app on Android, and it'll arrive "soon" for iOS.

Despite a U.S. federal judge's reversal of a previous verdict, Sonos has appeared unhappy with the end result and, according to The Verge, will not let up in its fight against large tech companies like Google. The speaker-maker is interested in fighting for the smaller companies that are copied by "behemoths like Google."

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.