The US Customs Service has identified that Google has broken an import ban. In January, the International Trade Commission placed restrictions on Google from importing key hardware products including Pixel, Nest and Chromecast.
Google and Sonos previously worked together on multi-room technology. That partnership ended and Sonos has accused Google of misusing its patents, with legal action starting in 2020. This has already led to Google introducing workarounds to downgrade the functionality of its devices to avoid infringement. This ruling by US Customs is a further blow to Google. Sonos has indicated that Google must “further degrade its customer experience, or pursue a fair licensing agreement with Sonos.”
Downgrading functionality is at odds with a great user experience, particularly if it affects existing devices. Google has complained it is “disappointed that Sonos continues to use the legal system in a way that deliberately creates issues for users.” But Google is on the back foot here and it has three choices: seek to overturn this ruling, adjust (downgrade?) its devices further or enter into a licensing arrangement with Sonos.
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This post first appeared on the Teacher Stern website.