Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Google/Nest v. Honeywell in the thermostat business

Within a post on January 15, 2014 titled Google steals innovation crown from Apple: Isaacson

[Walter Isaacson] said Google-Nest exemplifies the "amazingly strong integrated strategy that Google has to connect all of our devices, all of our lives, from our car, to our navigation system, to how our garage doors are going to open."

The Nest portfolio of smart thermostats and fire detectors will be added to Google's gee-whiz tool shed of giant robots, self-driving cars and Google Glass.

Isaacson also pointed out that Nest co-founder and CEO Tony Fadell will be joining Google as part of this deal. "Fadell was one of the team that created the iPod. He was very deep into the Apple culture ... when Apple was so innovative."

Isaacson did not mention the Honeywell/Nest patent litigation.

from an IPBiz post [
Honeywell, Nest, and thermostats
] on April 12, 2012: There is reference to a patent infringement suit brought by Honeywell against Nest in February 2012.

from IPBiz post CBS Sunday Morning on August 12, 2012 :

Only at this point did the cover story by David Pogue on thermostats appear. Tony Fadell who did the iPod, transformed the thermostat. The Nest Thermostat. You can adjust your thermostat when you are not home.

See also

Nest Counters Honeywell Allegations of Patent Infringement including the text

This lawsuit is a bald effort by Honeywell to inhibit competition from a promising new company and product in a field that Honeywell has dominated for decades. Nest Labs, with its Nest Learning Thermostat, has generated consumer and critical enthusiasm around the home thermostat—a device that most people had long since written off as a bland, dumb appliance. No less than the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today have lauded the Nest Learning Thermostat as “gorgeous, elegant and very, very smart”; “intuitive … sophisticated … [and] right on the money”; and “hot”—unlike “the thermostat on your wall [that] is probably a blah-looking controller you face only when it’s time to warm or cool the house.”

And note the 14 January 2014 post by Tony Rizzo Nest vs. Honeywell: Who Will Win the Thermostat Patent Wars? including the text

For Nest it was instantly clear that Honeywell wasn’t interested in licensing fees or constructive dialog. It was clear that Honeywell wanted Nest entirely out of the thermostat market. Fortunately for Nest Fadell and Rogers came equipped with plenty of experiences in dealing with such tactics from their Apple iPod and iPhone days. Soon enough they brought on board Apple’s former chief patent counsel Richard Lutton Jr. as VP and general counsel and they began to build their defense strategies.

Fadell has been quoted in the past (over on The Verge website) as saying, "They are not trying to get money out of us. They are trying to maintain the status quo…In seven decades, there appears to be little more technological improvement to the flagship Honeywell thermostat than the replacement of a mechanical display with an LCD."

Rizzo's text --Honeywell wasn’t interested in licensing fees -- should be noted by sometimes flip licensing attorneys whose response to IP issues is "We'll just license it." Sometimes patent holders don't want to license, and, under US law, patent holders do not have to license.

Sadly, Rizzo really misses the mark in his text

As we noted in our Google-Nest deal analysis, there is certainly the possibility – even given the above patent issues Nest has uncovered – that Honeywell will win the patent lawsuit. But in that case Google may have to shell out a few dollars (and if the judge ends up having a proper sense of humor he or she would set penalties at $1.00) but Nest will still be there competing head on with Honeywell.

The danger to Nest if Honeywell were to win is not in damages ("a few dollars") but in an injunction, which would put Nest out of business.


Post a Comment

<< Home