Beginning Next Week: InsideCounsel will become part of Corporate Counsel. Bringing these two industry-leading websites together will now give you comprehensive coverage of the full spectrum of issues affecting today's General Counsel at companies of all sizes. You will continue to receive expert analysis on key issues including corporate litigation, labor developments, tech initiatives and intellectual property, as well as Women, Influence & Power in Law (WIPL) professional development content. Plus we'll be serving all ALM legal publications from one interconnected platform, powered by, giving you easy access to additional relevant content from other InsideCounsel sister publications.

To prevent a disruption in service, you will be automatically redirected to the new site next week. Thank you for being a valued InsideCounsel reader!


Sonos plans to ‘forward-publish’ patent applications

The speaker manufacturer takes a different tack on patent strategies

It’s one thing for a new player to shake up a particular niche technology, the way Sonos is doing with connected speakers. It’s another thing entirely for that company to take a fundamentally different approach to dealing with intellectual property

The speaker manufacturer has announced its plans to “forward-publish” some of its patent applications. This is certainly not a common practice for technology companies, and it raises several questions, mainly “What, exactly, is Sonos doing?” and “Why?”

According to a blog post by the company, it plans to publish some of its patent applications before the United Stated Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does. Normally, when a company files a patent application, the USPTO publishes the application and associated art about 18 months later. Sonos wants to preempt that timetable by publishing selected patent applications on its own, ahead of that timetable.

Sonos claims that it wants to promote transparency and help improve overall listening experiences for consumers, but in reality, it likely intends to serve notice to other companies that are trying to break into this space. The general counsel of Sonos, Craig Shelburne, spoke to, stating that the strategy was unusual, but that it had no intention of abusing the patent system.

The action does show a potential issue with the current patent system. There is a bit of a paradox involved, as most inventors are reluctant to share their discoveries unless they have patents, which stymies innovation – the exact thing that patents are supposed to inspire. We’ll have to see if Sonos’ strategy catches on, and if other companies decide to buck the patent system.


For more patent news, check out the following:

IP: Should the Supreme Court address claim construction in patent cases?

IP: Supreme Court to determine patentability of software-implemented inventions

IP: Subject matter conflicts of interest in patent prosecution – Training your team

Senior Editor and Community Manager

author image

Rich Steeves

Richard P. Steeves is Senior Editor and Community Manager of InsideCounsel magazine, where he covers the intellectual property and compliance beats. Rich earned a B.A....

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.