Because you can read that title either way, let me clarify what’s going on as best I can. Sonos is bringing a lawsuit against Denon (D&H Holdings to be specific) over their new HEOS speaker line. The Denon HEOS lawsuit claims that D&M Holdings violated at least four of their specific patents. Among their claims are that Denon’s HEOS speakers use many of the same design elements found in the existing Sonos speakers and desktop products. In fact, Sonos claims that Denon didn’t even try hard to differentiate the design aspects of several of these elements. Here are some examples:
Sonos (left) and Denon HEOS (right) Volume and Play/Pause controls are quite similar. Of course, there are only so many ways to provide these controls, so it’s the sum of the whole that will cause this to be a particular issue.
Even Denon’s page layout and naming conventions for the speakers is being addressed:
Sonos also seems to be leveraging a lot off of statements made by a review on VentureBeat which compared the two systems closely and displayed the similarities. Sonos has officially filed the Denon HEOS lawsuit in Delaware where they are incorporated. From Sonos’ blog:
“As a next step, we will offer to sit down with Denon, explain our views and give them time to modify their products. We are not asking for a royalty or other license fee – we just want Denon to build an experience that isn’t copying ours. We have always anticipated and continue to welcome competition in a space where we’ve worked alone for so long, but with the caveat that these new entrants come up with new ideas and true innovations, not merely copy what we have invented – to create a better experience for all of us music lovers out there.”
As for what happens next in the Denon HEOS lawsuit? We’re not entirely sure, but we’ll keep you posted. At first glance, Sonos appears to have a case, but they are being selective in what they are choosing to take issue with. Prosecuting design patents are tricky, so it will be an uphill climb to be sure. In general, the success of the lawsuit will likely hinge on Sonos’ ability to show that Denon somehow infringed upon enough different elements (the “sum of the whole”) so as to result in a judgment against them.