Earlier this month, Sonos sued Google in federal court and filed a complaint at the International Trade Commission, alleging that Google stole its intellectual property and infringes its patents. The cases involve complicated patent questions and illustrate the challenges that tech companies have when working together to promote interoperability while simultaneously needing to protect their intellectual property rights.
The ITC asked the public for comments on whether its investigation should include an inquiry into whether excluding Google speakers (and related products) from importation would affect competition or other aspects of the public interest.
CDT takes no position on the underlying patent questions. But we feel strongly that the public’s interest in robust competition is an important question. So we filed comments with the ITC, urging it to investigate whether excluding Google speakers and related products at the border could harm competition in this nascent market. Connected speakers are increasingly becoming part of American consumers’ everyday lives, and as they acquire more and more devices that connect to smart speakers, the implications for competition also get more complicated. You can read our comments here.