Tech

Google faces yet another government investigation after Sonos complaint

Key Points
  • The U.S. International Trade Commission said it will investigate allegations that Google imported and sold patent-infringing goods after Sonos complained.
  • Sonos has filed suit against Google over alleged patent infringement and testified in front of the House Antitrust Subcommittee last month about Google's competitive practices.
  • Google and its parent company Alphabet already face an antitrust probe opened by a large group of state attorneys general, and the Department of Justice and the House Antitrust Subcommittee are both looking at its competitive practices.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks to the media before the opening of the Berlin representation of Google Germany in Berlin on January 22, 2019.
Carsten Koall | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Google faces yet another investigation by a U.S. government agency.

The U.S. International Trade Commission disclosed an investigation into Google and its parent company Alphabet Thursday, after a complaint from Sonos that Google imported patent-infringing products.

The investigation will cover "certain audio players and controllers, components thereof, and products containing the same," according to a press release. In its complaint to the USITC, Sonos alleged Google violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing into the U.S. and selling audio products and controllers that it said infringe certain patents. Sonos requested the USITC to issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist, according to the release.

"Sonos has made misleading statements about our history of working together," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "Our technology and devices were designed independently. We deny their claims vigorously, and will be defending against them."

The agency must provide a target for completing the probe within 45 days, according to the release. A USITC administrative law judge will hold an evidentiary hearing to make an initial determination of whether there was a violation, which will be subject to review by the commission.

The investigation adds to a growing number of groups at the federal level looking into Google. In addition to an antitrust probe opened by a large group of state attorneys general, the Department of Justice and the House Antitrust Subcommittee are both looking at Google's competitive practices.

The probe also shows Sonos is committed to pursuing various legal routes in its patent infringement accusations against the company. Sonos filed suit against Google last month for allegedly violating Sonos' patents on Google's audio products. Sonos CEO Patrick Spence testified in front of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, chaired by Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline, less than two weeks after the news of the lawsuit.

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