Former Apple patent exec joins buddies at Nest to fight Honeywell infringement suit

Weird science: Father of the iPod battling thermostat kings

nest thermostat
The former Apple engineers involved with Nest, a start-up building a next generation thermostat have drafted another ex-Apple employee, chief intellectual property officer Richard "Chip" Lutton,  to help  fight a patent infringement lawsuit brought against them by Honeywell.

More: The fierce battle for intellectual property

Ex- Apple engineer Tony Fadell, considered the creator of the iPod and is now the founder and CEO of Nest, last October rolled out the company's smart Learning Thermostat.   The $249 Nest Learning Thermostat is round and made of brushed stainless steel that uses an iPod-like control wheel for manual setting.  According to Fadell, the thermostat "learns" your daily routine via a machine learning program and can adjust itself based on your preferred temperatures and schedule.   It can for example sense when you come home and push up the A/C or heat for example. And it can give you tips and feedback on your energy use.

In February, thermostat giant Honeywell filed a lawsuit claiming Nest's Learning Thermostat infringes on seven regulator technology patents Honeywell holds.   

"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 stated.

Lutton however wasted no time diving into the fray today answering the Honeywell charges in court.  

"As reported in prior litigations, Honeywell has a pattern of trying to stifle new market entrants with unfounded legal action," stated Lutton who is now vice president and general counsel of Nest. "Instead of filing lawsuits, Honeywell should use its wealth and resources to bring innovative products to market. Nest will defend itself vigorously in court and we'll keep our company's focus where it should be -- on developing and delivering great products for our customers.

"Nest does not use the Honeywell patents; but even if the patents covered what Honeywell alleges, they are hopelessly invalid. They are retreads--already invented by others years before, and in some case by other teams at Honeywell that Honeywell hid from the Patent Office when pursuing the patents in this lawsuit," Lutton said.

For a patent case this one could get interesting fast.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8 and on Facebook

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