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Google smart speakers can now be grouped together again

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is reverting to its previous policy that allows users to add multiple Google Nest speakers, Chromecast devices, and smart displays to different groups in the Google Home app. This move comes in response to changes implemented by the company last month, limiting certain devices to only one speaker group at a time, following a patent lawsuit brought by Sonos.

The Nest team announced this development, which effectively reverses the recent change. To provide context, Sonos filed a lawsuit against Google in 2020, alleging infringement of several patents, including those related to managing groups of speakers.

In May, a California federal jury ruled that Google had indeed infringed on Sonos’ intellectual property and ordered the tech giant to pay a $32.5 million fine. However, US District Judge William Alsup recently overturned the verdict, determining that Sonos’ patents were unenforceable. Alsup found that Sonos had incorrectly connected its multi-room audio patents to a 2006 patent application that did not disclose the actual invention. Additionally, he noted that Sonos did not file patent applications for the patents involved in the lawsuit until 2019, well after Google had presented a plan for using multi-room audio technology while exploring a collaboration.

In response to the judge’s ruling, Sonos expressed its intention to appeal, stating that the decision was “wrong on both the facts and law.” Despite Sonos’ appeal plans, Google has decided to reverse the previous changes, ensuring that users “will no longer encounter an error when trying to add a device to additional groups.” This update is currently rolling out to the Home app on Android and will be coming soon to the Home app on iOS devices.

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