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A company that’s been making smoke detectors for fifty years has filed a lawsuit against startup Nest Labs claiming patent infringement over aspects of Nest’s new Protect smoke detector. I’ve embedded the lawsuit below, and I first read it on The Verge. Turns out when a startup is trying to reinvent decades-old, unloved products with design, they tend to step on the toes of the decades-old companies already there.
BRK, which makes the First Alert branded smoke detectors, is alleging that Nest’s Protect device violates its patents for a talking smoke detector that explains the location of the incident. BRK says it has spent considerable time and resources developing this tech and marketing it, and they want the court to stop Nest from selling the allegedly infringing detector and to award damages.
Nest was also sued by Honeywell back when it launched its learning thermostat. As a result of the Honeywell lawsuit Nest hired Apple’s former Chief Intellectual Property Officer Richard “Chip” Lutton as its new vice president and general counsel.
Nest responded to the lawsuit with the official comment:
This is an all-too-common defensive response from an entrenched industry incumbent. In this case, it’s particularly troubling that BRK/ First Alert want to prevent consumers from benefitting from an improved safety-related device. But we are fully prepared to fight this unfounded lawsuit vigorously in court. In the meantime, we’ll continue to reinvent unloved products to improve people’s lives.
Updated at 9:33PM on November 19 to include an official comment from Nest.