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Google sues Sonos over smart speaker and voice control tech

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Google is striking back at Sonos with a pair of lawsuits alleging that the wireless speaker company is infringing on a number of its patents around smart speakers and voice control technology. It’s the latest volley in a back-and-forth battle over wireless speakers that has so far involved multiple lawsuits from Sonos, one lawsuit from Google, and one ruling in favor of Sonos that’s led to features being stripped from Google’s products.

These new lawsuits allege infringement of seven additional patents. One lawsuit focuses on hotword detection and wireless charging, and the other revolves around how a group of speakers determines which one should respond to voice input.

Google spokesperson José Castañeda said the lawsuits are being filed to “defend our technology and challenge Sonos’s clear, continued infringement of our patents.” Castañeda said that Sonos had “started an aggressive and misleading campaign against our products, at the expense of our shared customers.”

Both lawsuits are being filed this morning in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Google plans to file similar lawsuits with the US International Trade Commission in the coming days that will seek to ban imports of any infringing Sonos products, Castañeda told The Verge.

The legal skirmish started in 2020 when Sonos initially sued Google over multiroom speaker technology. The two companies had partnered years earlier to make Google services work on Sonos speakers, and Sonos claimed that Google went on to steal its speaker tech to build the Google Home and other devices. Google countersued months later, claiming Sonos infringed on a number of its patents, too. Then Sonos sued again. Finally, in January — two years after the first lawsuit was filed — the US International Trade Commission ruled in Sonos’ favor, finding Google in violation of Sonos’ patents.

In response, Google has had to adjust features of some of its products. That included Google removing the ability to adjust the volume of a group of speakers at once — a pretty annoying change for owners of multiple Google speakers. Today’s lawsuits seems to be an attempt by Google to gain leverage on Sonos as the two spar over features.

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Tuesday’s top tech news: Elon squares off against Apple

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Oh Elon. It was pretty obvious something was up when Twitter’s new CEO tweeted out of the blue that “Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter,” and asked whether “they hate free speech in America?” Following a question from my colleague Jake Kastrenakes, Musk confirmed that the iPhone maker was threatening Twitter’s presence in the App Store and/or making moderation demands. Welcome to hell, Elon.

Away from the chaos at Twitter there was more bad news in the crypto sector with the news that finance firm BlockFi has filed for bankruptcy amidst the continued FTX fallout, while crypto exchange Kraken has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines over possible Iran sanction violations. Thank god we’ve got another trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie to look forward to later today.

For now, here’s a silly tweet:

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Tuesday, November 29th, 2022.



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‘No Cooperation’: How Sam Bankman-Fried Tried to Cling to FTX

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“Sam this is an excellent pick and I wholeheartedly hope you sign this tonight,” Mr. Dexter wrote in an email on the evening of Nov. 10. “The faster John is in place, the faster the company can resolve issues that require urgent progress.”

A flurry of emails followed. In a message at 3:38 a.m. on Nov. 11, Mr. Miller asked for an update on Mr. Bankman-Fried’s decision. “I am chatting with Sam,” responded Ken Ziman, a lawyer at the firm Paul Weiss who was representing Mr. Bankman-Fried.

Ten minutes later, Mr. Ziman confirmed that Mr. Bankman-Fried had signed the document, authorizing Mr. Ray to take over FTX. The company filed for bankruptcy a few hours later.

The filing was hardly the end of the chaos. The court submission listed more than 130 corporate entities tied to FTX, including its U.S. arm and Alameda, the hedge fund. But the filing was inaccurate: Some of the entities were not owned by the exchange. They belonged to AZA Finance, a separate company that had recently become partners with FTX to promote crypto in Africa.

FTX later acknowledged the error. But in a Nov. 11 Slack message to Mr. Miller and other officials, Elizabeth Rossiello, the chief executive of AZA Finance, called the mistakes in the bankruptcy filing “a storm of wild irresponsibility.”

“This is hurting 9 years of work we have done to create this platform!!” she wrote.

Mr. Miller responded defensively. “We had no cooperation of the founders in preparing this week,” he said. “It was unfortunate.”

Mr. Bankman-Fried was also frustrated. Despite giving up control of FTX, he continued contacting possible investors about new funding for the exchange. In a letter to former colleagues last week, he said he regretted filing for bankruptcy, claiming that “potential interest in billions of dollars of funding came in roughly eight minutes after I signed the Chapter 11 docs.”

He presented no evidence for that claim, and in any case, FTX was no longer his company to run. On the morning of Nov. 11, Mr. Miller moved quickly to make that clear, requesting the deletion of information about the firm’s old leadership from its website.



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The best Cyber Monday deals available now

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Below, we’ve rounded up the best Cyber Monday deals you can currently get, whether you’re in the market for a 4K OLED, a gaming laptop, or another piece of big-ticket tech that would normally require you to shell out your entire paycheck. We’ve included a number of budget-friendly items, too, just in case you’re looking for chargers, a cheap(er) pair of earbuds, or other essential gadgets to round out your arsenal.

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