Posted on 27th June, 2019


Referred to by many as the 'Sonos Killer' when it first debuted in 2014, it is no wonder that Sonos, the pioneer of the multi-room wireless audio category vigorously defended itself when pushed by the launch of Denon's HEOS.

The long legal stoush dragged out for over four years with Sonos claiming that Sound United, the parent company of Denon, had infringed on multiple patents held by Sonos.

The result was a defeat for Denon with a court ruling three Sonos patents had been infringed. Denon was ordered to compensate Sonos with US$2 million for breaches occurring between the HEOS debut in 2014 and up until the end of 2016. 

It is understood further patent infringements were resolved by an 'undisclosed settlement' after that initial ruling.

Sonos now has Lenbrook International, the parent company of Bluesound, in its sights. According to a statement released to CE Pro last week, Sonos alleges Lenbrook has infringed on seven patents, including the two patents it successfully claimed Denon had violated.

It's reported that “Sonos is asking for an injunction on allegedly infringing Lenbrook products, as well as an award for damages and an enhancement of damages for willful infringement.”

Image: CE Pro

In response to the claims, Lenbrook International provided StereoNET with a statement overnight, now published on the Lenbrook website and can be read in entirety here.

Lenbrook respects the valid intellectual property rights of others, and in fact has entered into many patent licenses over its 40-year history. The Bluesound brand and technology platform was developed and funded by Lenbrook, a private Canada-based company. 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.

Lenbrook denies the allegations and says that its “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.”

Lenbrook's statement also says that in November 2018, “Sonos sent letters to multiple audio companies, including Lenbrook, providing notice that Sonos believes that they all infringe certain Sonos patents.”

There is no disputing the fact that Sonos carved out what has become the wireless multi-room audio category, but it has also failed to evolve with innovative new products more recently. 

With the rise of smart speakers equipped with Google Home and Amazon Alexa capability, together with the now established Apple Airplay and DTS Play-Fi wireless technology, Sonos could have its work cut out for it if it intends to pursue every wireless audio manufacturer.

Then again, perhaps the legal avenue is more cost-effective for Sonos than actual product development?

Marc Rushton's avatar

Marc Rushton

StereoNET’s Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.

Posted in: Integration Technology Smart Homes & IoT Industry
Tags: sonos  lenbrook  bluesound  sound united 

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