Nest Labs, the thermostat company founded by former iPod hardware designer Tony Fadell, was hit with a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by Honeywell recently. Nest formally responded to Honeywell’s claims and they have hired Richard “Chip” Lutton, a veteran at Apple Inc. that managed the company’s patent portfolio. Lutton will become vice president and general counsel at Nest.
Honeywell said that Nest was violating seven of their patents with their Nest Learning Thermostat product. ?Nest does not use the Honeywell patents; but even if the patents covered what Honeywell alleges, they are hopelessly invalid. They are retreads ? already invented by others years before ?? said Nest in their response.
Nest also pointed out that specific patents around remotely controlling temperature set-point marks, displaying temperature set points on an LCD inside of a rotating ring, and showing the user an HVAC controller with complete grammatical sentances are indistinguishable from earlier Honeywell patents.
Nest did admit that they used Honeywell thermostats as research in their labs though. This indicates that the company acknowledges Honeywell’s contributions to the thermostat industry. Nest bashed on Honeywell’s lack of innovation though.
?That ?blah-looking controller? on the market today is very often from Honeywell, which has long dominated the thermostat market, but has yet to generate a device that offers ordinary consumers as much as the Nest Learning Thermostat,? stated Nest claims. Honeywell earned $36 billion in 2011.