Yesterday, Sonos, the company that invented and popularized the wireless multi-room audio category more than a decade ago, nobly released its patents in an announcement on the company’s blog. The company says that by doing so, other speaker manufacturers can benefit from their investment in research over the years. Sonos hopes this will foster creativity within the home audio category.
Today, wireless speakers and systems represent the fastest growing segment in home audio. The market has seen numerous new entrants, from start-ups you’ve possibly never heard of to bigger brands you might know. This is great news for consumers because more competition should only improve everyone’s experience with music at home.
Our patents reveal to the public key foundational elements we created that enhance the music experience in the home. We know that others can – and will – benefit from the time, energy and investment we have put into our patented inventions, not to mention our products themselves. And we welcome that learning, but with an honorable caveat: use it to create differentiated products, rather than merely incorporating or copying our invention without our permission. While we recognize the existence of abuses in the marketplace that cross this ethical line, we still believe patents can and should be used for the benefit of all – by helping accelerate innovation.
In fact not only will the company release its patents to everyone, “in the interests of being transparent and eliminating surprises,” they will also be forward-publishing patent applications before they are available for public consumption. They say that usually happens about 18 months after the patent application. “We are doing this for anyone or any company that might be interested in the patents we are seeking.” The only exception will be for inventions that are not yet in publicly available Sonos products.
It’s a bold move, and very generous and admirable of Sonos. We hope that it will foster innovation in the home audio space as the company intends and provide us with more still more game-changing technology in that category, like Sonos itself.