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Photo: Sonos

Speaker maker Sonos on Tuesday sued Google for patent infringement and asked a trade court to bar importation of some Google products that are manufactured overseas.

Why it matters: Sonos has been trying to add smarts to its speakers while touting their audio quality to deal with a flood of competition from tech players offering inexpensive smart speakers. It had previously worked with Google to bring that company's voice assistant to its speakers.

Driving the news: Sonos filed suit in federal court and also filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, which has the power to bar the importation of products found to infringe patents.

Our thought bubble: In its suit, Sonos says that Google has not only been infringing patents but also flooding the market with less expensive products.

  • That latter claim seems true on its face, though likely not unlawful, and is the heart of the challenge Sonos faces.
  • There are a ton of Amazon and Google smart speakers on the market, and those companies can make money by selling advertising and services, where as Sonos is trying to profit by selling hardware.

What they're saying:

  • Sonos CEO Patrick Spence: "Google is an important partner with whom we have collaborated successfully for years, including bringing the Google Assistant to the Sonos platform last year. However, Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology in creating its audio products."
  • Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda: "Over the years, we have had numerous ongoing conversations with Sonos about both companies' IP rights and we are disappointed that Sonos brought these lawsuits instead of continuing negotiations in good faith. We dispute these claims and will defend them vigorously."

The bottom line: Google is facing broad investigations by federal and state authorities into potentially monopolistic behavior, and each new challenge from smaller competitors could fuel the antitrust bandwagon.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Alabama's new congressional map rejected by federal judges

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Federal judges on Monday night blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map and ordered the Republican-led State Legislature to create a new one that includes two districts, rather than the planned one.

Why it matters: "Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress," the panel of three judges wrote in their ruling.

Australian Open organizers reverse "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirt ban

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai during the 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo: Bai Xue/Xinhua via Getty Images

Australian Open organizers on Tuesday reversed a ban on t-shirts supporting Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai following widespread criticism.

Why it matters: Tennis Australia's announcement came less than 24 hours after the governing body defended the decision to ask fans last Friday to remove "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirts, citing ticket policy prohibiting political clothing, per the BBC.