Lenbrook Responds to Sonos Lawsuit, It Will ‘Defend Vigorously the Claims’

Lenbrook Group logo

Strata-gee reported yesterday that late last week Sonos had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Lenbrook Industries Limited and Lenbrook America. This suit, which is almost identical to the one Sonos had successfully pursued with D&M Holdings and Denon over its HEOS line, was resolved in Sonos’s favor a little over a year ago.

Now we have Lenbrook’s response to this development – the company says it will “defend vigorously the claims of patent infringement made by computer audio company Sonos…”

See what else Lenbrook had to say about the Sonos suit…

Lenbrook put out a statement late Wednesday addressing the situation that has swirled around the industry since the news of the week-ago filing emerged. Lenbrook’s statement sounds righteously indignant, describing Sonos as a “computer audio company” while positioning Lenbrook as a “maker of the award -winning high-fidelity and high resolution audio based Bluesound wireless multi-room audio players.”

Specialty oriented Lenbrook notes that it “respects the valid intellectual property rights of others, and in fact has entered into many patent licenses over its 40-year history.” But this time, in the case of Bluesound, it’s technology platform “was developed and funded by Lenbrook, a private Canada-based company.”

Bluesound: A ‘Proprietary Development’ & ‘Differentiated Solution’

“This proprietary development has relied on 40 years of internal or contracted Lenbrook know-how in the areas of amplification, acoustics, and connected audio allowing Lenbrook to develop products delivering high resolution audio files and streaming music throughout residences and commercial establishments.”

Statement from Lenbrook Industries Limited
From 2013 Bluesound press presentation
This image, from the 2013 brand launch of Bluesound, shows the original design of the Vault (left) and Node (right).

Lenbrook seems to feel its Bluesound line is sufficiently differentiated from Sonos, saying, “Lenbrook’s high resolution audio capabilities substantively differentiates Lenbrook’s products from those of Sonos and many other of Sonos’ actual direct competitors. Lenbrook believes it is generally recognized by the industry as the first legacy audio company to deliver such a complete and differentiated solution to the audiophile marketplace.”

Licensing Discussions Had Taken Place

One surprise in the Lenbrook statement is that apparently the company did have some level of discussion with Sonos, noting that, “…while beginning its own investigation of Sonos’ patent concerns, Lenbrook, as a sign of goodwill an respect, did inquire whether Sonos had developed, a standard licensing program and terms.” However, something must have gone wrong, as the statement goes on to say that “Lenbrook disagrees with the recent statement from a Sonos ‘spokesperson’ characterizing the substance of the parties’ licensing discussions.”

Lenbrook acknowledged that it was a Sonos distributor in Canada for about a 10-month period in 2007-2008. However, it considers “Sonos’ suggestion that its 10-month Canadian distributorship of Sonos products somehow allowed or led Lenbrook to copy Sonos’ designs or ideas to be meritless and damaging to the reputation and value of the Lenbrook enterprise.”

Photo of Sonos One

Awaiting Further Developments

For now, I’ve been told that Lenbrook is not offering interviews and would prefer to let their statement speak for itself. However, they will shortly have to officially respond to the initial complaint in court. We may learn more at that time.

Learn more about Lenbrook at: https://lenbrook.com/

See the entire Bluesound lineup at: www.bluesound.com.

Find out more about Sonos and its products at: www.sonos.com.


Comments

Lenbrook Responds to Sonos Lawsuit, It Will ‘Defend Vigorously the Claims’ — 4 Comments

  1. Ted,

    From what I’ve read/heard about the Sonos vs. Heos litigation is that it did not take very long for the court to rule in favor of Sonos. I wonder if “vigorously defending” themselves is going to make this outcome any different from Heos.

    I think one could make the claim that Sonos’ patents are too broad, but the fact that they were awarded the patients in the first place must mean that they are specific enough.

    Anyway, I think it will be interesting to see what happens with Bluesound – given that it is not as popular as even Denon Heos, so it may not be worth it to pursue a defense, let alone have to settle for giving a cut of the profits to Sonos.

    • The Sonos/HEOS suit took like 3 or 3 1/2 years to resolve. If Lenbrook/Bluesound choose to fight, it will likely be at least three years before we get to some kind of resolution.

      The fact that Sonos got a patent in the first place does not, if and of itself, mean that their patent is sufficient. Patents get challenged all the time and are thrown out. Just ask Denon, they had some of their patents thrown out in their countersuit with Sonos.

      We’ll see how this plays out though… Could be a different deal altogether…

      • Well, from start to finish it may have taken that long (probably less because Heos had not even been released for 3 years by the time of the settlement), but my comment was centered around the time it took for a decision. I’m not sure if we’re allowed to link articles here, so I will quote the article instead…
        “The jury found in favor of Sonos in all respects and deliberated for less than 2 hours – while eating lunch and with a delay …. Indeed, the jury’s quick verdict confirms that D&M’s non-infringement and invalidity positions were tenuous at best”.

        Additionally, much like Lenbrook is saying now…D&M was saying :
        “We fully intend to take all necessary actions to protect our technology and product investment in our HEOS products.”

        So my original point was…we’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. I do not see how the sequel will end much differently!

        • TLM,

          Ah, I didn’t get that your comment referred specifically to the time of deliberation by the jury. In that regard, you are correct…it was quick. Point well taken.

          Doing a little research – on Strata-gee.com of course – I first reported on the original filing of the lawsuit by Sonos against HEOS in October 2014. I reported the resolution of the bellwether trial, including the jury’s verdict, in December 2017. The final settlement between the parties was reached in May 2018.

          So it appears that we were both right – from our unique perspectives.

          However, your comment that “HEOS had not even been released for 3 years by the time of settlement” can’t be correct. I had HEOS products fully demonstrated to me at the CE Week show in June 2014 – almost 4 years before the settlement with Sonos.

          But your point that “we’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends” is solid!

          Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective!

          Ted

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