A few months into his job as chief legal officer of Sonos, Eddie Lazarus was ready to wage war.
When Lazarus joined the audio hardware company in late 2018, it was facing growing competition from tech giants like Amazon and Google. Both companies were selling cheap speakers capable of multiroom audio playback, a feature Sonos had pioneered on its devices more than a decade earlier. Sonos executives believed they were owed compensation from the big tech firms for the use of their intellectual property, but negotiations with Google had broken down. “They made it very clear that they were never going to pay us a fair royalty,” Lazarus recalled during a recent Zoom conversation.
That’s why in 2019, Lazarus prepared Sonos to sue Google, a company with a market cap more than 500 times its size, for patent infringement. “It was daunting,” said Lazarus. “Nobody likes to pick a fight with one of the biggest companies in the world that has endless resources.”