Honeywell Faces Lawsuit for Allegedly Stealing Allure Energy’s Technology for Lyric Thermostats
Honeywell’s Lyric Thermostat is at the center of Allure Energy’s Patent infringement lawsuit.
Allure Energy has sued Honeywell (NYSE: HON) for allegedly infringing on patents pertaining to smart thermostats, specifically related to proximity detection, or “geofencing” through GPS-enabled smart phones. The same features, it seems, might apply under Allure’s patent to other smart devices including lighting controls, security and home automation systems.
“The technology at issue can detect whether users are home or away through their smartphones and automatically adjust its temperature settings based on the users’ distance from the home,” according to Allure. “The technology is a critical element of the emerging connected home industry, enabling home appliances, heating and air conditioning, and security systems to be controlled based on a user’s presence at or distance from the home.”
Allure also claims to have patents on learning thermostats, but such technology does not seem to apply to this case.
This particular lawsuit applies to Honeywell’s Lyric thermostat introduced last year.
According to a statement by Allure, the story begins at a Distributech utility conference in 2012, when Honeywell asked for a demo of Allure’s EverSense, a smart thermostat (and media player) with proximity-based automation, Honeywell later ordered samples of the product when it became available,
“We thought Honeywell was interested in a business relationship,” says Allure founder and CEO Kevin Imes in the statement. “We were aware that Honeywell’s product offerings had fallen behind consumers’ increasing desire for a connected smart thermostat. We thought our technology could be used to help Honeywell finally enter the ‘smart’ thermostat market.”
In response to our inquiry about the lawsuit, Honeywell offered this statement:
“We’ve not seen the complaint but Honeywell takes intellectual property very seriously and is always prepared to assert its rights and defend itself vigorously when challenged. We have more than 100 years experience and a sizable patent portfolio related to climate-control technologies. And, our recently launched Lyric Thermostat enjoys the benefits of this expertise. In fact, Honeywell has more than 36,000 patents and patents-pending worldwide, and each year we file more than 1,000 new, original patents on technologies developed by our more than 20,000 engineers and scientists.”
GPS-based Proximity Detection for HVAC Control
Allure has been somewhat quiet since we first wrote about them in 2011 (Smart Thermostat Knows When You’ll Be Home) and 2012 (Allure Energy’s EverSense: All-in-One Thermostat, Media Player), but the company was one of the earlier purveyors of geofencing for home energy management.
When synced with residents’ smart phones, Allure’s EverSense thermostat would monitor the comings and goings of users and start heating or cooling a home at the optimal time.
If Dad appears to be coming home – based on his current location and trajectory – and no one else is home and it’s cold in the house, the thermostat might automatically start ramping up when ETA is 30 minutes.
I mocked the idea two years ago, but it seems like everyone is doing the same thing now – detecting the proximity of any given user to automate not just temperature control, but lights, security and other smart-home systems as well.
EcoFactor has a very similar patent, filed in 2013, on using geolocation for energy management.
Other products and services with GPS-based energy-management include Alarm.com and enerG . Nest can be GPS-controlled via such applications as IFTTT , Life360, Skylark and sorta-kinda-maybe Google Now.
But Allure is going after Honeywell first.
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