Sep 6, 2023Legal
Google Emerges Victorious: $15 Million Verdict Erased in US Audio Patent Battle


In a significant turn of events, Google has secured a major legal victory as a Delaware federal judge has ruled to nullify a $15.1 million verdict against the tech giant in a jury trial related to playlist features in its Google Play Music app. The verdict, delivered by a Delaware jury in June, found Google guilty of infringing on audio patents held by Personal Audio, a patent holding company. However, U.S. District Judge Colm Connolly has now declared that the loss cannot stand, stating that there was no reasonable basis for the jury's decision.

Background of the Case

The lawsuit originated from a complaint filed by Personal Audio, LLC (Personal Audio) against Google LLC (Google) in 2015. Personal Audio alleged that Google's streaming music app, Google Play Music, included playlist downloading, navigation, and editing features that violated their patented technology. These patents covered an audio program player capable of automatically playing a predetermined schedule of audio program segments, such as songs, from a program library. The player also allowed users to use commands, like "skip," to modify the sequence and content of these audio program segments.

Jury's Initial Decision

After a six-day trial, the jury delivered its verdict, finding Google liable for direct and induced infringement of specific claims from the patents held by Personal Audio. The jury also determined that Google's infringement was willful, especially concerning unlicensed Android phones with Google Play Music installed. Additionally, the jury concluded that all the asserted claims in the patents were valid, not invalid. As a result, they awarded Personal Audio $15.1 million in damages.

Judge Connolly's Ruling

However, U.S. District Judge Colm Connolly's recent ruling challenges the jury's decision. Judge Connolly emphasized that Google's technology operates differently from the audio-software technology held by Personal Audio, rendering the jury's findings invalid. This crucial distinction led to the nullification of the $15.1 million verdict in favor of Personal Audio.

Personal Audio's Response

In response to the judge's decision, Personal Audio expressed its intent to appeal, maintaining confidence in the initial jury's determination.

Implications of the Ruling

This ruling marks a significant legal victory for Google, absolving the company of the $15.1 million damages initially awarded to Personal Audio. It also highlights the importance of demonstrating a clear infringement of patented technology in intellectual property disputes.

It's important to note that Google had discontinued its Google Play Music service in 2020, migrating users to its YouTube Music app as part of its strategic shift in the music streaming market. Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda expressed satisfaction with the decision, emphasizing the company's commitment to creating innovative products independently while competing fairly based on the merits of their ideas. 

The legal battle, known as Personal Audio LLC v. Google LLC, unfolded in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware under case number 1:17-cv-01751. Legal representation for Google included Melissa Baily, Jeff Nardinelli, David Perlson, Antonio Sistos and Patrick Stafford of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan


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