Heat dials up on smart-thermostat wars

Transform boring, old technology into something with next-generation smarts and huge market potential, and what do you get?

Exciting new business opportunities? Check. A stepping-stone to even more innovation? Check. An open-door invitation to a lawsuit?

Check.

As the smart-grid industry matures and evolves, it should come as no surprise that there will be mergers and acquisitions, winners and losers … along with increasingly fierce competition along the way. And with the competitive territory comes an increased likelihood of litigation.

Now that advanced energy meters and smart thermostats have entered the mainstream, the competition is heating up. This week, Honeywell dialed up the temperature a bit more by filing a lawsuit against Nest Labs, which last year unveiled its Nest Learning Thermostat.

Honeywell alleges that Nest is infringing on seven of its own thermostat technology patents: “among other things, simplified methods for operating and programming a thermostat including the use of natural language, user interfaces that facilitate programming and energy savings, a thermostat’s inner design, an electric circuit used to divert power from the user’s home electrical system to provide power to a thermostat, and controlling a thermostat with information stored in a remote location.”

Filed in US District Court in Minnesota, the Honeywell lawsuit also names Best Buy, which carries the Nest thermostat. The suit seeks to halt the sale of Best thermostats and also asks for monetary damages.

Honeywell recently also filed suit against Venstar Inc. and ICM Controls for “infringing thermostat and combustion controls patents.”

 

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