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Google loses Sonos patent case, starts stripping functionality from speakers

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Google loses Sonos patent case starts stripping functionality from speakers

 

Following a preliminary ruling in August; the US International Trade Commission has issued a final decision saying that Google infringed five Sonos smart speaker patents.

 

It would be possible for this ruling to result in some products like the Nest Audio, Chromecast, and Pixel line being banned in the US, but Google has prepared ITC-approved software downgrades; which remove the infringing features from users’ products.

 

Sonos essentially invented the connected speaker category for streaming music; but the advent of voice assistants has led to Big Tech stomping all over Sonos’ territory.

 

Sonos says that while it was pitching Google for support of Google Play Music; Google got a behind-the-scenes look at Sonos’ operations in 2013.

 

Sonos says Google used that access to “blatantly and knowingly” copy Sonos’ features for the Google Home speaker; which launched in 2016. Sonos sued Google in early 2020.

 

ALSO READ: Google, Apple had secret agreement on search business, alleges lawsuit

 

 

Eddie Lazarus, the chief legal officer at Sonos, told The New York Times; “We appreciate that the ITC has definitively validated the five Sonos patents at issue in this case and ruled unequivocally that Google infringes all five.

 

That is an across-the-board win that is surpassingly rare in patent cases.”

 

Sonos’ patents all deal with setting up and controlling groups of speakers.

 

It’s probably best to just look at what’s changing; since Google’s response to the situation has been to push out a software update that removes or works around the infringing patents.

 

On a Google Nest Community post called “Upcoming Speaker Group changes;” a Google rep tells customers:

 

 

Due to a recent legal ruling we’re making some changes to how you set up your devices and [how] the Speaker Group functionality will work moving forward. If you’re using the Speaker Group feature to control the volume in the Google Home app, by voice with the Google Assistant, or directly on your Nest Hub display, you’ll notice a few changes:
  • To adjust volume on your speaker groups, you will need to adjust each speaker individually instead of using the group volume controller. You’ll also no longer be able to change your Speaker Group volume using your phone’s physical volume button.
  • Most Speaker Groups should continue functioning as expected unless you have a speaker group containing other brands of Cast-based devices, like JBL or Lenovo. They need to be on 1.52.272222 or higher Cast firmware version. Check out this article on how to find your device’s firmware version or contact your device maker.
  • A small set of users will need to use the “Device Utility app” (DUA) to complete product installation and updates. You may receive a prompt to download and run DUA, and it will ensure that your device is connected to Wi-Fi and receives the most updated software version.
We will continue to support our users and work to minimize any additional changes.

 

The volume change is the biggest annoyance on this list.

 

Previously, it was possible to control every playing speaker with a single slider and change the group speaker volume by voice; now, it sounds like only individual controls will be available.

 

Google is also removing the ability to control the volume of speaker groups via your phone’s physical volume buttons; a feature that was axed early in the Android 12 update.

 

It sounds like it’s also not possible to set speaker group volume via a smart home routine anymore.

 

The comments on Google’s post are worth a read, as it’s filled with angry customers demanding refunds and threatening lawsuits.

 

One user sums up the customer reaction nicely, saying; “So you got sued by Sonos and we pay the price? Either get some better lawyers and win the suit, or pay Sonos a royalty, or start issuing refunds to customers.”

 

Despite Sonos’ win, the company hasn’t gotten the outcome it wants.

 

Sonos wants Google to pay royalties for its patents, not pull the rug out from under consumers by stripping features from already-purchased products.

 

It sounds like until that happens, Sonos is going to continue applying pressure to Google. Sonos’ victory statement closes with:

 

It is a possibility that Google will be able to degrade or eliminate product features in a way that circumvents the importation ban that the ITC has imposed. But while Google may sacrifice consumer experience in an attempt to circumvent this importation ban; its products will still infringe many dozens of Sonos patents, its wrongdoing will persist, and the damages owed Sonos will continue to accrue. Alternatively, Google can—as other companies have already done—pay a fair royalty for the technologies it has misappropriated.

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Oyetola urges Osun voters to safeguard PVC ahead of guber election

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Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun has urged the electorate in the state to safeguard their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) ahead of the July 16 gubernatorial election in the state.

The governor made the remarks  on Thursday during what was described as a “strategic tour” of Ila Federal Constituency Area of the state.

Oyetola also urged members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to keep their membership registration slips safe ahead of the party’s primary.

He appealed to them not to allow any individual to deceive them  with ”fake loan” to steal still their PVCs from them.

“I implore you to keep the party’s registration slip issued during the accreditation exercise and your voter’s card safe.

“With the look of things, it seems that the party will opt for direct primary, if it is so, the membership slip will be used for the exercise.

“Some people want to collect your PVC and membership slip with the pretence to give you a loan.

“They are all liars, the loan that they did not give you two years ago, they are lying to give you months to the election.

“They are promising you food now, they are liars. We started our food support programme last year April and we did not stop it.

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“We are not doing this because we want to get votes from you, but it is because of our genuine love for the people.

“Let us be prepared for the primary election of our party and the gubernatorial election,” he said.

In his remarks, the Orangun of Ila, Oba Abdul Oyedotun, said the achievements of the governor in the development of the state were enough testimonies for him to be reelected.

Oyedotun, who noted that the governor would triumph in the election, said the electorate were behind him.

“Your achievements speak for themselves and we are proud of what you have done.

“Your second term ambition will be successful and whoever tries to stand on your way, will not witness your success story.

“ Don’t despair, our ancestors were faced with travails and they emerged triumphant, you shall overcome yours too.

“Your detractors will witness your success and you will triumph over them,” the Oba said. (NAN)

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FG begins inspection of grant, Expatriate Quota renewal facilities, others

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“This is pursuant to the Second Schedule of the Marriage Act, Cap 6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the approved Legal Notices vide Federal Government Official Gazette Nos. 55, 56, 59, 60, 61 & 62, Volume 108 of 2021,” it added.

The notice also  states that these inspection exercises and services attracts payment of fees that are mandatory for organisations and public places of worship who do apply for such services.

“For more information on the payment process public places of  worship and companies are directed to log on to the Ministry’s website on www.ecitiz.interior.gov.ng for payment.

“For further enquiries: Please call the ministry’s e-citibiz contact centre on 07000099999(operating hours are Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm.

“The call Centre can also be contacted during weekdays and weekends via: [email protected],ng.”

NAN reports that Expatriate Quota is granted for an initial period of three years.

It can however be renewed for further periods of two years each subject to a cap of 10 years within which time the relevant skills comprised in the position ought to have been transferred to qualified Nigerian Understudies.(NAN)

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6th Anniversary: Commissioner eulogises Yahaya Bello’s giant strides in education

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Kogi State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Wemi Jones, has eulogised Gov. Yahaya Bello on his giant strides in education sector as he celebrates his 6th year anniversary.

The commissioner in a statement on Thursday, in Lokoja commended the governor for increasing budgetary allocation to education to 30 per cent, which is above UNESCO global recommended benchmark.

‘He  congratulated him on the auspicious occasion of the second year into his second tenure in office.

”It is no gainsaying that you have excelled above every expectation in educational development and the following areas remain indelible among your quantum leaps:

”Increased budgetary allocation for education to 30 per cent which is above UNESCO global recommended benchmark.

”The establishment of specialized Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara; construction, renovation, and remodelling of GYB Model Science Colleges in all the 21 local government areas of Kogi,” he said.

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According to him, the signing of Kogi State Education Law 2020, development of the State Education Strategic Plan (SESP) 2021-2030 and Science Education Operational Plan (SEOP) 2021- 2023; and others too numerous to mention.

”Sir, you remain the unbeatable and best education-friendly governor of our times.

”I congratulate you on your ever impactful New Direction Administration as we look forward to more fruitful years of higher uplifting from GYB to PYB,” he said.

NAN reports that Yahaya Bello was sworn in as the 5th Executive Governor of Kogi State for second tenure in office on Jan. 27, 2020. (NAN)

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