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Your Google Nest device may be a step closer to regaining lost features (Update)

Sonos waited roughly a decade before filing proper applications for its multi-speaker patents.

Published onOctober 10, 2023

Google Nest Audio in black on nightstand next to bed
Adam Molina / Android Authority
  • A California judge has overturned a recent jury verdict in favor of Sonos.
  • The judge found that some of Sonos’s multi-speaker patents were unenforceable.
  • Google has confirmed its audio devices will regain lost features.

Update, October 10, 2023 (3:18 PM ET): Google has responded to the overturned ruling. In that response, the company has confirmed it will bring back the ability to seamlessly group and integrate Google smart speakers.

Original article, October 10, 2023 (2:21 AM ET): Google was forced to remove a few features from its Nest speakers and smart displays following legal action by speaker company Sonos. Now, it looks like Google could be a step closer to resurrecting these features.

A California judge overturned a recent $32.5 million jury verdict in favor of Sonos against Google (h/t: Reuters), declaring that Sonos’s patents were unenforceable.

Judge William Alsup found that Sonos had tried to “improperly” connect its 2019 patent applications for multi-speaker technologies to provisional applications filed in 2006.

“This was not a case of an inventor leading the industry to something new,” Alsup was quoted as saying by Reuters. “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.”

Google had argued that Sonos deliberately held off on applying for these patents until the search giant had launched devices with this tech.

What happens now?

Back in May, a jury found that Google’s Chromecast and Nest devices had infringed on Sonos’s patents regarding multi-speaker functionality. This May 2023 verdict also followed a 2022 ruling against Google in favor of Sonos.

These earlier rulings resulted in Google removing features like multi-speaker groups, the ability to control the volume of a multi-speaker group, and the ability to tap your phone’s volume rocker to control the volume of a speaker group.

However, this latest decision to overturn the jury verdict potentially opens the door for Google to reintroduce these features. In saying so, Sonos and Google are still reportedly embroiled in legal battles in the likes of Canada, Europe, and the US. You, therefore, might not want to hold your breath for these features to return to Google devices just yet.

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