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US opens investigation into Google amid Sonos patent suit

Nathan Ingraham
Deputy Managing Editor
Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

It's been about a month since Sonos sued Google for allegedly violating some of its patents behind syncing wireless speakers, and now the US government is getting involved. The US International Trade Commission today announced that it had voted to investigate whether Google and its parent company Alphabet have imported patent-infringing products into the country. To be clear, this doesn't mean the US government has decided that Google has violated Sonos' patents -- but whether or not those patents were violated should fall under the scope of this investigation.

The US ITC opened this investigation as a result of a complaint Sonos made alleging that Google violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing and selling products infringing on the company's patents. Sonos is seeking cease and desist orders against Google that would presumably keep them from selling speakers that are in violation of Sonos patents.

According to the ITC press release, the commission must set a target date for completing the investigation within 45 days of beginning it. So, it'll be at least a few months before we find out what the government thinks about Sonos' case against Google. But at the very least, it's further evidence that Sonos is taking its legal fight against Google seriously and going after them on multiple fronts.

Sonos provided us with the following statement about the investigation: "We're pleased the ITC confirmed it will initiate a formal investigation into all of our claims asserting Google blatantly infringed our intellectual property. We'll fully cooperate throughout the duration of the investigation and feel confident about the merit of our case."

We've reached out to Google for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

Update: 3PM ET: Added statement from Sonos.