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Sonos Sues Competitor Bluesound for Patent Infringement

Janko Roettgers

Smart speaker maker Sonos has sued Lenbrook Industries, the company behind the audio brand Bluesound, for patent infringement. It’s the second such lawsuit from Sonos against a competitor, which has also been using its patents to gain concessions from the makers of voice assistants.

In the lawsuit filed late last week in a California court, Sonos alleges that Bluesound products violate a total of 7 different patents, including some that cover the control of audio volume across multiple speakers, networked media playback and synchronization of multiple speakers.

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“Instead of innovating to compete fairly with Sonos, (…) Defendants have merely copied Sonos,” the lawsuit alleges. Lenbrook Industries did not respond to a request for comment.

Lenbrook Industries was doing business as a Sonos distributor before launching its own line of wireless smart speakers, according to the filing. “Defendants have had intimate knowledge of Sonos’s wireless audio products and technology since at least 2007, more than six years before Defendants released their first Bluesound products,” Sonos claimed in its filing.

Ever since developing its first networked audio products back in 2002, Sonos has been amassing a treasure trove of patents covering a variety of aspects of wireless networking and digital audio. The company first put its hundreds of patents to the test in 2004, when it sued Denon over its HEOS wireless speakers.

Multiple courts sided with Sonos in that lawsuit, which was ultimately settled out of court last year. The terms of that settlement remain confidential, but Denon is widely believed to have agreed to pay licensing fees to Sonos.

Sonos has also been using its patents as a way to level the playing field in its negotiations with big competitors like Amazon, Apple and Google, which all offer multi-room audio for their own smart speakers. The company has not publicly commented on the details of the deals it has with the industry giants, but the patent threat likely helped to convince the competition to license their voice assistants to Sonos.

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