The bumpy world of home energy management, which in the last year or so has seen flame outs of big names like Google and Microsoft and major retooling by the likes of GE, hit another stumble today as nimble start up Nest Labs was served up with a patent infringement lawsuit from technology giant Honeywell.
Honeywell, in its lawsuit, alleged that Nest, makers of the sleek Nest Learning Thermostat, infringed upon seven related technology patents the former holds. The company said the patents are related to, 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.”
Honeywell has named both Nest and Best Buy, which is selling the thermostat in its Home Energy concept section in test markets, in the suit. It looks to prevent use of what it says is its patented technology, as well as “recover damges caused by the infringement.” The company feels justified in its lawsuit, noting it has “invested substantial resources in the research and development of its thermostats” and that it “has protected that investment with a significant patent portfolio, including hundreds of patents in the thermostat space alone.”
Nest has yet to issue a detailed response to the lawsuit, telling media outlets it first needs to review the full filing before giving a more in depth comment. Though it is unclear if the lawsuit holds merit or not until it plays out in a court or some other action, one thing is for certain – a company that was a rising star in a turbulent home energy technology space is endanger of getting its wings clipped.