Home Blog Federal Judge Throws Out $32.5 Million Win For Sonos Against … – Slashdot

Federal Judge Throws Out $32.5 Million Win For Sonos Against … – Slashdot

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“What’s more, in 2019, during the prosecution of the applications for the patents in suit, Sonos amended the specification to insert new matter, despite telling the patent examiner the inserted matter was not new. Under black letter patent law, that new matter necessarily sunk any claim of priority.”
If that is true, the patents are clearly invalid since the allegedly infringing Google products turn out to be prior art.
Don’t know what the point is to huff and puff about the patent system working precis
For as much as Sonos charges, their hardware could have been future-proofed for decades without a lot of effort. If you’re talking about the S1 / S2 split, it’s ridiculous that they decided that they couldn’t have basic functionality maintained on a new system. Just disable new functionality any time old generation equipment is in a group. Honestly, most users aren’t doing anything terribly complex with their Sonos system – it’s expensive enough that a lot of people take years to buy enough to cover thei
a question that a prick would ask. SuperKendall, is that you?
Pick Google because the “innovation” (let’s have a shared master volume setting) is obvious and shouldn’t be patentable.
Anytime there’s ridiculously overly-broad patents, it doesn’t matter who the victim is: I’m on their side, even if it’s Apple!
Fuck obvious patents!

Don’t know what the point is to huff and puff about the patent system working precisely as designed

Don’t know what the point is to huff and puff about the patent system working precisely as designed
So that’s why the patent was granted and Sonos was able to insert that material without being challenged until after a court case was already ruled in their favor? The intent isn’t broken, but the system obviously is. I almost wonder if the patent office isn’t intentionally underfunded just to help out big companies.

I haven’t seen the inserts yet, I don’t have an opinion.

I haven’t seen the inserts yet, I don’t have an opinion.
Obviously you do. You wrote this whole post on the conjecture that maybe this whole thing is made up because the USPTO worked as designed.
Here you go:
https://fingfx.thomsonreuters…. [thomsonreuters.com]
From Sonos’ own lawyers:
I need to apologize for a clarification. You and I had a discussion
yesterday about the specification in this case and whether it’s the
same, and I said it was the same, and that’s true insofar as there’s
Case 3:20-cv-06754-WHA Document 868 Filed 10/06/23 Page 44 of 55
United States District Court
Northern District of California
an incorporation by reference in the specification to the
provisional.
However, the specification has changed in slight ways as the
applicant has amended the specification over the years to bring in
things from the provisional, which is perfectly permissible under
Rule 57(g). I just thought I should bring that up.
It also says that the important amendments to the patent, “TX0004 at 821; TX0006 at 4101”, were added in August 2019 after the patent was filed AND after the lawsuit with Google was already underway. And when they did this, they lied to the patent examiner and said there was nothing materially new. And when challenged, they claimed it was OK because it “just a reference” to information that could be found in the design documents.
It was absolutely the examiner’s fault for not looking at what changed (or understanding the implications in light of ongoing litigation). You can be underfunded and still make money if you set the fees and choose to undercharge and understaff. Just like any large business these days.
“t also says that the important amendments to the patent, “TX0004 at 821; TX0006 at 4101”, were added in August 2019 after the patent was filed AND after the lawsuit with Google was already underway. And when they did this, they lied to the patent examiner and said there was nothing materially new. And when challenged, they claimed it was OK because it “just a reference” to information that could be found in the design documents.”
That’s what was said. As I said earlier, and you for some reason could not ac
I have now reviewed the technical aspect of the case, specifically the amendment to the specification in 2019.
The judge asserts that Sonos deceptively modified information in the original filing, then lied to the examiner about it. The facts, though, regarding this require interpretation and I believe the judge is prejudicial.
First, the added text absolutely supports the claims and would make the patent valid. That’s not in question, second, the text ABSOLUTELY existed in the original filing, that’s also

“I almost wonder if the patent office isn’t intentionally underfunded just to help out big companies.”

That’s because you are ignorant. The Patent Office is self-funded. In fact, it is a profit center.

“I almost wonder if the patent office isn’t intentionally underfunded just to help out big companies.”

That’s because you are ignorant. The Patent Office is self-funded. In fact, it is a profit center.

That’s because you are ignorant. The Patent Office is self-funded. In fact, it is a profit center.
There is no need to insult anyone, since these two statements are in agreement. The patent office should not be a self-funded profit center. When this changed it was criticized for causing the exact behavior that we are discussing here. The patent examiners have a profit-driven motive rather than objective analysis of facts.
“There is no need to insult anyone, since these two statements are in agreement. “
They are not. First, the OP is ignorant, it is not an insult but a fact. Second, the USPTO is self-funded so there is no one to “intentionally underfund” them.
“When this changed it was criticized for causing the exact behavior that we are discussing here.”
When was the USPTO “changed” to for-profit?
“The patent examiners have a profit-driven motive rather than objective analysis of facts.”
Not really, patent examiners do not pr

Not really, patent examiners do not profit from their own actions and allowing patents in spite of “objective analysis” in order to profit absolutely does NOT happen. Examiner’s often create bogus rejections in order to string out applications and rack up fees.

Not really, patent examiners do not profit from their own actions and allowing patents in spite of “objective analysis” in order to profit absolutely does NOT happen. Examiner’s often create bogus rejections in order to string out applications and rack up fees.
You contradict your self, you say ” patent examiners do not profit from their own actions” then you say the “Examiner’s often create bogus rejections in order to string out applications and rack up fees” so there actions are motivated by profit.
Examiners may not profit from their actions directly, (I have no idea how their remuneration package works) but earning your company more money will earn you success in the organization, which will intern make you money.
The optimal way is to do both, increase the cos
“You contradict your self, you say ” patent examiners do not profit from their own actions” then you say the “Examiner’s often create bogus rejections in order to string out applications and rack up fees” so there actions are motivated by profit.”
No, it’s your reading comprehension that’s the problem.
Examiners do not PERSONALLY profit by these actions. They are salaried employees that do not get financial incentives for certain actions.
They do, however, get judged on their performance and that process is f
If the examiner granted it then the system is broken, well if this happens often enough at least, but it isn’t the “patent system working precisely as designed”, unless as designed means you need to have millions of dollars to challenge a patient in court, while unable to provide features to your customers. Then in my opinion it is designed wrong.
Also if the patent office is self funded, that is a glaring flaw in the system. It immediately has a motivation to encourage more people to get patients. Its job s
There are two real reasons Judge Alsup ruled against Sonos.
(1) Prosecution latches. This essentially rules that Sonos waited too long to claim their invention. IIRC, there’s a presumption that changes at seven years, after that, Sonos has to show good reason they didn’t file on the inventions sooner. Leaving inventions unclaimed for too long and hoping the industry steps on your patent disclosure is unlawful because it’s against public policy.
(2) Added matter. To claim priority, you must show every patent in the priority chain individually support the claimed invention. Alsup found a patent in the chain that didn’t include the critical support for the claimed invention, and support only was added later in the priority chain. If the patent claim falls due to lack of support in a prior patent of the priority chain, Google’s prior art invalidates the claim.
This is all long-standing established patent law. I see no reason to assert that Alsup was “legislating from the bench.” It’s legal to tailor claims for validity and infringement with respect to a competitor’s product, you just can’t wait too long to do so.
“I see no reason to assert that Alsup was “legislating from the bench.””
Because you’re not looking.
You are correct about the two reasons, but the “legislating from the bench” comment regards the first reason. The judge admits throughout that there is no objective standard for determining (1) so it is the judge’s subjective opinions that eventually rule, and the judge dismisses criticism of his opinion because “in the end, it makes no difference here.” (p. 29)
The decision states on p. 31:
“At all relevant ti
“I see no reason to assert that Alsup was “legislating from the bench.””
From the Conclusion:
“It is wrong that our patent system was used in this way. With its constitutional underpinnings, this system is intended to promote and protect innovation. Here, by contrast, it was used to punish an innovator and to enrich a pretender by delay and sleight of hand. It has taken a full trial to learn this sad fact, but, at long last, a measure of justice is done.”
Yeah, sounds like a judge dispassionately making a ruli
“Too long”? If Sonos had disclosed the invention in 2006, then Google integrating the invention later would be known as “infringement”, not “innovation”. Patents are for a limited time, that time is not in “how long” it takes to ask for them.
The key word which is missing from the /. summary but was front and centre in the reporting I read about this earlier today is laches. If a patent holder knows that someone else is infringing the patent, they have to sue them right away rather than delaying. In this cas
“If a patent holder knows that someone else is infringing the patent, they have to sue them right away rather than delaying.”
False, and irrelevant.
Sonos did NOT have a patent that Google infringed in 2015. The issue raised is NOT that Sonos didn’t sue right away but that they didn’t file for the patent years earlier. The problem there is that Sonos DID file for patents continuously and in a sequence, which is totally customary, and it is only that the judge, based on personal values that he declares are r
I seem to recall that in signing the latest patent treaty — maybe 10 years ago? — the US agreed that prior art is less important than who filed first. Can someone confirm or refute?

“Even if the provisional application Sonos filed in 2006 or the corresponding non- provisional application Sonos filed in 2007 had actually disclosed the invention, that would be all the more reason to hold Sonos waited too long to claim it, to the prejudice of Google, not to mention other companies and consumers.”

“Even if the provisional application Sonos filed in 2006 or the corresponding non- provisional application Sonos filed in 2007 had actually disclosed the invention, that would be all the more reason to hold Sonos waited too long to claim it, to the prejudice of Google, not to mention other companies and consumers.”
This is a really screwball sentence. Without more context, I think the judge flat up got something wrong (not difficult to do in patent law, but obviously not a sign of competence). It sounds like Sonos must have used multiple continuations to go from the 2007 non-provisional to the 2019 application, which is procedurally fine. Perhaps the key is the use of the word “Claim,” which is one of those loaded words in patent law. It has the ordinary meaning of “I say this is mine” but it also is a specific le
And this is literally legislating from the bench. Sonos not only did nothing procedurally wrong or in violation of any rule (regarding timeframe), they did what companies do routinely. The process allows patents to progress this way and so they routinely do. The judge doesn’t like it in this case so he alleges this absurdity. Of course the judge got this wrong, and he did so deliberately.
“The only possible way the judge could have any sort of leg to stand on would be if the invention was disclosed by So
this sounds like it qualifies as a “submarine patent”, that’s hiding in the depths, waiting for someone to do an obvious innovation, get successful, and then pounce on it?
They abused provisional patents somehow. They filed a provisional in 2006, which gave them 12 months after public disclousre to file a formal patent. Instead they waited 13 YEARS to file a slightly different patent as if it were the same one. Actually, the original one was rejected before it was modified after filing extensions for years – the revised one should have been treated as a new application and been invalidated by prior art. The new claim wasn’t enough to stand on its own.
I don’t even know how they can get away with waiting that long – their patent should have been rejected for just that. Even if they didn’t publicly disclose the claim, other products by other companies being on the market is a disclosure in itself.
Submarine patents need to at least be filed. At least the patent would have expired in 2027 because it’s based on the 2006 date.
“Instead they waited 13 YEARS to file a slightly different patent as if it were the same one.”
No, but Google and the judge thank you for being so gullible.
The provisional was filed in 2006. A non-provisional was filed in 2007. So you’re already wrong.
It was granted in July, 2013. Here it is: https://patents.google.com/pat… [google.com]
Then came “a daisy chain of continuation applications. A pattern developed. Just before a patent would issue, Sonos would file another continuation application to keep the daisy chain a
Remind me again why we shouldn’t just completely do away with all forms of IP law? (For bonus points, do so without framing it around a pun involving “Intellectual Property” > “Internet Protocol”)
I don’t dispute that patents and copyright had their uses. One hundred years ago. But it’s the 21st century, patent law doesn’t scale, and copyright law has been completely and utterly overextended in time and scope far past the point of common sense. Trademark law is the relatively-inoffensive outlier, but if t
It’s all about incentives, the idea is to incentivize new inventions and innovation by saying “you came up with a good idea, you get legal protection to exclusively produce it for a set amount of time in exchange for certain concessions, namely that the idea gets published and those protections run out”. If you have an invention and want to hold onto it forever as a trade secret you can do that by not getting a patent but it’s up to you to keep it a secret. SpaceX I believe famously does this a lot, they don’t patent many of their innovations but since their hardware never really leaves their purview they are able to keep secrets.
Same idea with copyright, you came up with some piece of media you get to control the rights and therefore the revenue generated from it for a certain amount of time. I think that’s a fair idea, creativity should be acknowledged and rewarded. As much as I realize lots of artists would in fact still do art for the sake of art and expression people have to eat still, it’s not Star Trek post-scarcity society yet.
Now as broad concepts these work but the details have become worse in many ways, copyright especially as length terms continue to get drawn out longer and longer to where the original authors of works are long long out of the picture. These are policy and legislative issues, not really problems with the concept of patents and copyright.
What is so inventive of speakers in multiple rooms? It’s been available since before the 70’s. It’s called intercom.
Is it innovative or or are we using an innovative new technology to accomplish something that has already been invented? With a computer or over WiFi is not innovative.
I am not defending this patent? I imagine this has more tot do with the implementation of multiple speakers with a mesh type networking implementation where the speakers can do multiple things, IE act in unison or switch off to acting as individual speakers (something intercom systems didn’t really do easily as they were generally analog)
Is it innovative? That’s up to the patent office and the patent laws, this has centuries of precedent. If we want it changed that’s up to legislation and the courts.

But it’s the 21st century, patent law doesn’t scale

But it’s the 21st century, patent law doesn’t scale
Patent law scales just fine. It’s just that nobody’s innovating enough to really deserve one. An obvious solution to an obvious problem should not be patentable just because nobody had taken the time to work out the math yet. Controlling speakers in multiple rooms and solving the obvious challenges with math or algorithms that have no special ideas to make it happen should not be patentable. Patents are on implementations and if Google accidentally stumbled on the same implementation for controlling spe

Remind me again why we shouldn’t just completely do away with all forms of IP law?

Remind me again why we shouldn’t just completely do away with all forms of IP law?
Remind me why we don’t amputate people’s feet to fix a broken toe?
The idea that IP law isn’t relevant today just because things have changed slightly is patently absurd (pun intended). Yeah IP law needs an overhaul, but it’s far better to stick with what we have than throw it out completely because that would be a frigging disaster, not just economically, but the fundamental reasons IP law was created haven’t gone away or been surpassed in any way.
Imagine actually inventing something (not like Sonos here, b
The “fundamental reasons IP law was created” is that selling monopolies was profitable for the government.
Article 1 Section 8 Clause 8: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
The “fundamental reasons IP law was created” are to “promote the progress of science and useful arts”, “selling monopolies” is what the Constitution allows Congress to do to accomplish that. But yes, they sell them for a profit. Does not appear that many people understand any of that, probably
The US Constitution postdates the creation of IP law by a considerable amount of time.
So your claim that the “fundamental reasons IP law was created” includes a context larger than the existence of the US Constitution? Sure thing. Would like you to demonstrate, then, how “selling monopolies was profitable for the government” for governments that predated US democracy.
Also note that you entirely ignored the point made by claiming it temporily irrelevant without justification.
Prior to 1850, people rarely bothered to use the patent system. Also, the vast majority of all patents allowed have come recently. In the US, about 7 million patents have been allowed in the 21st century, where it took the US nearly 100 years to grant 1 million patents. The 10 millionth patent? 2018! We now have a run rate of nearly a half million A YEAR. That’s just the US, China is even more active today. China, the world’s shining star of capitalism.
It you’re gonna make some snide and cynical remark
Shitty bastard corporations fight. One of them wins a round. Yawn.
Wake me up when the plebs win a round against the corps.

Shitty bastard corporations fight. One of them wins a round. Yawn.

Wake me up when the plebs win a round against the corps.

Shitty bastard corporations fight. One of them wins a round. Yawn.
Wake me up when the plebs win a round against the corps.
Users. This court case has had a material impact on users of Google Home devices and their capabilities. You may not care. But *many* people do, and this is great news worth celebrating because fuck Sonos,… not just for this, but for every story Slashdot runs about them. There’s rarely anything positive to say about those arseholes.
Sonos products are best of breed. If not for their botching of the v1 to v2 transition, there would be nothing negative to say about them. It says more about people like you that have these opinions of Sonos based on nothing.
And Google is a far larger company with a far more aggressive IP program than Sonos.

Sonos products are best of breed. If not for their botching of the v1 to v2 transition, there would be nothing negative to say about them. It says more about people like you that have these opinions of Sonos based on nothing.

And Google is a far larger company with a far more aggressive IP program than Sonos.

Sonos products are best of breed. If not for their botching of the v1 to v2 transition, there would be nothing negative to say about them. It says more about people like you that have these opinions of Sonos based on nothing.
And Google is a far larger company with a far more aggressive IP program than Sonos.
thegarbz may be overstating the case a bit; but I agree that a company which invites customers to perma-brick perfectly good hardware in order to get a discount on new hardware is evil and not to be trusted. The fact that Sonos totally underestimated the backlash suggests that they might be a bit thick as well.
“a company which invites customers to perma-brick perfectly good hardware in order to get a discount on new hardware is evil and not to be trusted. “
It is not, because the “perfectly good hardware” was a trade in. Ordinarily, the customer sends the item back for a trade-in credit, but in this case Sonos gave the credit without requiring the return. That hardware, though, became Sonos’s property, though, not the customers’, and Sonos can brick it if they want. Any explanation for how Sonos is evil requires
Did you look hard, AC? Or did your masters just point you to the post you should reply to?
“Sorry, their products are garbage.”
Who are you replying to? LOL. Anyone here say otherwise? Sonos is best of breed…in the home background music market. Like it or not. Of course, no one even believes you know anything about Sonos, or “Shitos”, products.
Stick to Truth Social, where you belong.

…This court case has had a material impact on users of Google Home devices and their capabilities. You may not care. But *many* people do, and this is great news worth celebrating because fuck Sonos,… There’s rarely anything positive to say about those arseholes

…This court case has had a material impact on users of Google Home devices and their capabilities. You may not care. But *many* people do, and this is great news worth celebrating because fuck Sonos,… There’s rarely anything positive to say about those arseholes
Google is evil, and so is Sonos – there’s rarely anything positive to say about either of those arseholes. I sympathize with Google Home users, to the extent that I sympathize with anybody who actually pays money to get burned by inviting tech giants into their homes.
A Patent is for creating something new. A new idea.
The Application follows with the highest and best embodiment of that new invention. Unless the court finds SONOS failed to implement the new invention, SONOS still owns the claimed new invention idea.
All that appears to have been won by Google is acknowledgement that SONUS new invention was not refined into its highest and best embodiment until later. The court is agreeing with GOOG that its technology is the highest, best embodiment of SONOS idea. SONOS sh
A whole lot of wrong here.
1) The claims ARE the patent. The “application” merely supports the claims. The claims are what they are, they don’t have to be “highest and best” anything.
2) An owner of a patent does not have to implement the patent.
3) The court specifically recognized that all of Google’s ideas were previously known to Sonos. “GOOG”‘s technology ISN’T the highest, best anything.
4) Sonos can perhaps appeal, otherwise it’s over.
>Sonos waited until 2019 to pursue claims on the invention
I wish more cases enforced this along with copyright claims. You shouldn’t be able to sit and wait for someone to work to make money then swoop in and take it. I remember this happened to Men At Work and it really disgusted me that they had their money taken for a song from 1932 based on a song released in 1981 and they waited until 2009 to sue.
“You shouldn’t be able to sit and wait for someone to work to make money then swoop in and take it. “
Even if the work they do is copying your work? Google here admits they implemented Sonos’s ideas and recognizes Sonos’s dating of those ideas. The only issues here are procedural, the “stealing” is not in question, only whether what was taken was IP.
“this feature”? There were network music players a the time, but the feature at issue was a UI feature that regarded the consumers of music sources, not the producers. At that time, Sonos was unique in providing networked “music consumers” that could be grouped.

“this feature”? There were network music players a the time, but the feature at issue was a UI feature that regarded the consumers of music sources, not the producers. At that time, Sonos was unique in providing networked “music consumers” that could be grouped.

“this feature”? There were network music players a the time, but the feature at issue was a UI feature that regarded the consumers of music sources, not the producers. At that time, Sonos was unique in providing networked “music consumers” that could be grouped.
By this you mean synchronizing multiple music players so that you could have the same music playing in multiple rooms at the same time? The squeezeserver software has done this for a very long time.
It goes back MUCH further. Multi-room audio control goes back to the early 20th century, to the first time somebody put more than one volume knob on an amplifier.
The patent should never have been issued.
We have several Google Home Minis that we got with our Nest thermostats. Besides setting timers, it’s sometimes nice to play music. I set up a “group” so that when I said, “Play this on Mars,” it would play on all of them. That worked great with Google Music, but when that merged with YouTube Music and closed, the devices said that it couldn’t play music on my groups anymore.
It sounds like this patent lawsuit is the reason for that, and it sounds like I’m finally getting one feature that I actually used
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