Judge removes clerk from Sonos case after Google conflict questions

The logo for Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Clerk previously worked for Google, owns Google stock
  • Sonos also said clerk may have worked for Google’s law firm

(Reuters) – A San Francisco federal judge has removed one of his law clerks from a patent dispute between Google LLC and Sonos Inc after Sonos raised concerns about the clerk’s ties to the tech giant, according to a Wednesday notice.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup recently told the parties that the unnamed clerk had worked for Google years ago and still owned Google stock, which he had placed in a blind trust. He rejected Sonos’ request for more information.

Sonos said last week it believed the clerk had also worked for the law firm that represents Google, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, while the dispute was pending. It called the situation “vexing” but said it would not seek to remove Alsup or the clerk from the case.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Alsup told the parties during a Wednesday hearing that the case had been transferred to a new clerk, according to an entry on the court docket. More details were not immediately available.

A Google representative and an attorney for Sonos declined to comment. A representative for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said the court does not comment on pending cases.

The underlying case is part of an international patent dispute between the companies over smart-speaker technology. In the case now before Alsup, Sonos sued Google in 2020, alleging its Chromecast streamers, Home speakers, Pixel phones, and other devices infringe its patents.

The case is Sonos Inc v. Google LLC, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:21-cv-07559.

For Sonos: Clem Roberts and Bas de Blank of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe

For Google: Charles Verhoeven of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Read more:

Sonos cites ‘vexing’ Google ties but won’t seek new judge in patent fight

Law clerk’s Google ties raise conflicts questions in Sonos patent case

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com

Read More

Diego Antes