Verdict: ‘Denon Directly Infringed’ on Sonos Patents


Jury Finds for Sonos on All Counts; Denon Claims of Invalidity Vanquished

Sonos logoLast Friday, after a full week of testimony, evidence, deposition playbacks, and attorney posturing, members of the jury listened closely as Judge William C. Bryson delivered instructions designed to clarify their deliberative process and their duty as “finders of fact” in the matter of Sonos, Inc. v. D&M Holdings Inc. d/b/a/The D+M Group, D&M Holdings U.S. Inc., and Denon Electronics (USA), LLC. The judges verbal instructions took a while to relay, as the reality is that patent disputes can be quite complex and the issues of intellectual property quite nuanced yet important.

In written form, which the Judge provided the jury for their easy referral, his instructions ran a full 27-pages long. After considering it all, the jury came back with a finding in favor of Sonos on all counts – and delivered an award to Sonos of just under $2 million for damages.

See more on this conclusion to a three year litigation…

As part of the process of bringing this matter to trial, all of the initial disputes were whittled down to three key patents:

  • U.S. Pat. No 9,195,258, referred to as the ‘258 patent;
  • U.S. Pat. No. 7,571,014, referred to as the ‘014 patent; and
  • U.S. Pat. No. 8,588,949, referred to as the ‘949 patent.Photos of Sonos & HEOS products

According to the Judge’s instructions to the jury, they have to decide on four issues, each of which need to be considered and decided separately:

  1. Whether Sonos has proved -“by a preponderance of the evidence” – that Denon has infringed on any of the asserted claims
  2. Whether Sonos has proved – again by a preponderance of the evidence – that Denon’s infringement were “willful”
  3. Whether Denon has proved – “by clear and convincing evidence,” a tougher legal standard – that any of Sonos’s patents are invalid
  4. If Sonos’s patents are valid and Denon has infringed on them, what damages should be assessed

There were three specific claims on each of the patents asserted – and separately disputed – and the jury had to decide for each of those claims on each of the patents. On the claim form, the jury had to indicate their decision on a total of 23 separate issues, plus the damage award determination.

On every single one of those decisions, the jury clearly indicated their decision in favor of Sonos. This includes three separate decisions of “No” against claims of patent invalidity asserted by Denon. Unless Denon chooses to appeal the verdict, this should settle the matter once and for all.

And perhaps, set the stage for further actions by Sonos.

About Ted

A sales and marketing specialist - primarily in the technology industry - I've experienced a sort of "circle of life" in business. I've been a mass merchant retailer, a specialty retailer, a specialty manufacturer, a large volume manufacturer, a distributor, and even represented sales representatives. Now the owner of a marketing company that works with a variety of businesses on improving their strategic marketing and business development - I analyze issues from all angles to develop holistic solutions.

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