Survey: Weigh in on the Honeywell-Nest lawsuit

13 Comments

The news on Monday that thermostat giant Honeywell slapped startup Nest with a lawsuit for patent infringement throws an unexpected wrinkle in the landscape of the smart thermostat this year. These connected energy devices — often overlooked but finally getting some attention in 2012 — have been poised to be a gateway into the connected home, working with mobile phones, utility meters, and heating and cooling systems. Honeywell’s lawsuit, which you can read more about here, claims that “many features of the Nest Thermostat infringe Honeywell patents.”

How might this new lawsuit impact the growth of the overall smart thermostat market? We want you, GigaOM readers, to weigh in below, and we’ll release all the details of the survey in a research note.

13 Comments

Chad Armstrong

Nest provided a kick in the pants to the HVAC industry, which we haven’t seen since the iPhone debuted to shake up the mobile phone world. This is not too surprising since one of the founders of Nest is Tony Fadell, who had worked on the iPod and iPhone at Apple, Inc.

If Honeywell could prove that Yoky Matsuoka had filched algorithms from Honeywell on determining on how to regulate temperature, then there might be some validity to Honeywell’s claims. Yet, none of the patents seem to focus on the elements which truly separate the Nest from the competition.

Nest has been quite open about the process they used to design and construct the Nest. As Tondy Fadell has mentioned in interviews, there is essentially a smart phone crammed into the Nest smart thermostat. I see nothing even close to the Nest thermostat provided by Honeywell. The only comparable programable thermostat that comes to my mind is the Ecobee, and I haven’t heard about Honeywell trying to sue Ecobee.

When was the last time someone was excited about a Honeywell thermostat? Have any tech sites done a tear down to see what makes a Honeywell thermostat tick? Honeywell has even admitted to have looked into smart thermostats years ago, but decided to pass. Then a newcomer enters the market and does what Honeywell did not, and now Honeywell is fuming and wants a piece of the pie.

Honeywell was passed by Nest, and now they are trying to catch up, not by developing their own innovative product, but by trying to beat their competitor with their patent portfolio. As we can see in the mobile phone industry where everyone is trying to sue everyone else, the attitude of being trigger-happy with frivolous lawsuits will only result in far more damage than it will help to protect the greater interest and well-being of all parties.

jon

Replaced a honeywell for my nest – honeywell is swell – but nest is best! Honeywell as been resting on its roundy and I am now saving energy with nest – a fabulously designed product that has leapfrogged programmable boxes that were clumsy and ridiculously complex!

George Kerr

Nest builds a better product and Honeywell kills it! If this is how things work Ford should sue every car manufacturer world wide for IP infrigment.

dh

I just don’t get this lawsuit at all. None of these patents are truly innovative and are ‘obvious’ to anyone working on such a project.

Our patent system is to promote innovation? How is this promoting innovation?

This is nothing more than a shakedown!!

michael kanellos

Nest threatened me with a lawsuit over an article during the summer, claiming that their existence was a trade secret. (I didn’t have my copy of Descartes handy at the time, sadly, to disprove it.) They like the legal system so they should be fine. Innovation can’t exist without intellectual property protection. Sometime it can overreach, but if it gets too weakened, innovation ends.

Bc

Nest benefited from load of free marketing because the founder was from apple…No wonder some people got upset.
It was not true that they “invented” learning thermostat, they merely pushed the concept further than others. As to the connected thermostat there are many product on the market today Nest is one of them

Savraj

Survey appears to be hidden on mobile? The suit has a chilling effect and undoubtely stifles American innovation.

Katie Fehrenbacher

This is from our dev guru on the mobile Q: It should work on mobile devices that support JavaScript and frames, and if not, users should see a link that takes them to the survey on a separate page.

Mark Horgan

I think the US has a problem and it also affects the rest of the world if you want to sell your products in the US. The current patent system is freezing innovation. It needs to be reformed. Broad scope and obvious patents shouldn’t be allowed and patents should only be valid for products that are currently on the market. But the current system suits the large corporations and corporations have captured government so nothing will be done about it.

Jason

The first thing that popped into my head when I saw the NEST thermostat was the old circular honeywell thermostat my parents had in their home in the late 80s. I am tired of false ‘innovators’ parading into the arena of tech, relabeling another person’s IP w/ a new spin/marketing and giving no credit to those who pioneered the space before them. It’s dishonest, illegal (when patents exist), and it only thrives due to an ignorant consumer. NEST is in no way innovative and reflects on a theft based culture all to common w/ companies like Zyanga

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