Sonos Sued for Patent Infringement Over Voice-Controlled Speakers

Plaintiff Cedar Lane Technologies Inc. filed a complaint on Thursday in the District of Delaware against Sonos Inc. for allegedly infringing the patent-in-suit via is smart speakers and app that utilize voice commands.

The patent-in-suit is United States Patent No. 8,165,867 (the ’867 patent), entitled “Methods for translating a device command.” Allegedly, Sonos’s smart speakers with Sonos app and Google Assistant infringe at least claim 1 of the ’867 patent.

According to the claim chart, claim 1 of the ’867 patent states, “A method of using a first electronic device to operate a second electronic device in real time, while the second device is not physically connected to the first device, and is only intermittently local to the first device…” Specifically, the Sonos smart speak and app allegedly perform this patent method because the app “running on a Google Assistant-enabled mobile device can be used to control a Sonos smart speaker via voice commands given by a user.”

The plaintiff claimed that the several models of Sonos’s smart speakers allow this functionality via Google Assistant, these can also be used to control other connected smart devices. In this circumstance, the Sonos speaker would be the first device and the other smart device, such as a smart TV or smart oven would be the second device.

The plaintiff also claimed that the Sonos app can control music played on the Sonos smart speaker. In particular, Cedar Lane Technologies asserted that, as described in the patent, the Sonos App on a Google Assistant device is the first device that “(a) obtains auditory information from external to the first device where the information comprises a human-understandable device command directed toward an operation of the second device, (b) manipulates the obtained information, and (c) transmits the manipulated information to a distal computer system.” For example, a user can say “‘Hey Google, play Billie Eilish and turn it up,” after which the device “receives the voice command, performs sampling and analog to digital conversion, and transmits the command in digital form using data networking protocols to remote Google Assistant servers.”

Sonos is accused of direct and induced infringement, as well as knowingly and willfully infringing the patent-in-suit. The plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment in its favor; an award for damages, costs, and fees; and other relief.

Cedar Lane Technologies is represented by Gawthrop Greenwood PC.