The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #167618   Message #4188259
Posted By: Stilly River Sage
10-Oct-23 - 11:52 PM
Thread Name: BS: New news *not* about the virus
Subject: RE: BS: New news *not* about the virus
Here's an interesting reversal of fortune:
A California judge has quashed one of Sonos's legal victories against Google – and the $32.5 million royalty payout that came along with it – declaring Sonos's patents at the heart of the matter were the unenforceable work of a "pretender" attempting to "punish an innovator … by delay and sleight of hand."

Judge William Alsup's order [PDF] invalidating the two patents at issue vacates a jury verdict from May of this year. The jury had found Google had infringed one of the patents, which concerned managing groups of smart speakers in a multi-room space.

Essentially, in this particular case, Sonos said the ability to group together Google Nest and Home smart speakers in your house or apartment – specifically, allowing gear to belong to more than one speaker group – infringed its intellectual property, and it demanded royalties. Sonos is also known for its multi-room speaker kit.

Unfortunately for Sonos, Alsup, a federal district judge in San Francisco, concluded after some investigation by himself that the two patents – 10,848,885 and 10,469,966 – in question were unenforceable based on a doctrine known as "prosecution laches." The rarely used laches defense is applicable when there is an unreasonable and unexplained delay in patent prosecution despite opportunities to do so earlier.

The patents in suit stem from an application made way back in 2006, Alsup explained, "but [Sonos] did not file the applications for these patents and present the asserted claims for examination until 2019." Sonos linking its 2019 patents (used to challenge Google in court) to that earlier 2006 application was spurious, the judge concluded, and was done only to claim a prior date before Google's allegedly infringing products came to market in 2015.

Summing it up:
Sonos was trying to punish Google retroactively by reaching into the past and connecting patent filings made over a decade apart.

"This was not a case of an inventor leading the industry to something new. 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," Alsup lamented.