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Patent Claim Shaping Leads to Deal to Settle in Thermostat Infringement Suit

Patent Claim Shaping Leads to Deal to Settle in Thermostat Infringement Suit
Nest temperature control device.

One of my most popular posts, as well as one of my personal favorites was published two years ago on the story of Allure Energy, and the way they shaped their claims in subsequent patent filings to take advantage of an early filing date to address specific features being introduced by their competitors as the market for thermostats with sensors began to develop. In this post I talked about the lawsuit Allure Energy filed against Nest Labs, who at the time was an independent company, but has since been acquired by Google for $3B last year.

At the end of last week it was reported that papers were filed in the Eastern District of Texas on Tuesday stating that the case was mediated on May 21 between Allure Energy and Nest. The case was scheduled to begin jury deliberation last week as well, but this became a moot point with the announced settlement. No details were disclosed, and so far neither company has issued a press release outlining the terms of the agreement, but under the circumstances it seems likely that this was a victory of some sort for Allure who filed their first provisional application on this technology in August of 2009, well before Nest was founded in 2010.

It is also worth pointing out that Nest was being sued for patent infringement by Honeywell as well, but in January of this year Allure filed suit against Honeywell claiming patent infringement on two different patents other than the ones asserted against Nest. Kevin Imes, founder and CEO at Allure Energy had the following to say about the lawsuit in an article for Greentech Media:

“When I founded Allure, our mission as a company was to change the way people save energy in the home without having to overthink it. We accomplished that goal and protected our technology. Up against global giants with greater resources and reach, our competitive advantage is our cutting-edge technology, on which we cannot allow others to have a free ride. As a small company pioneering this important space, it’s critical that we protect our intellectual property, and enforce our exclusive rights to this technology under the U.S. patent laws.”

For those of you who may be wondering, not that it should really make a difference, but Allure Energy is not a Non-Practicing Entity either. They have their own product, EverSense available for sale, and they are looking to capitalize on every advantage they can to ensure that they become a significant player in the market for connected devices. When I first heard about Allure Energy I was impressed with how savvy they were with regards to integrating their corporate strategy with their patent strategy. Now, almost six years in they are starting to realize the fruit of that early investment. They should be congratulated on taking the time to build an impressive portfolio of intellectual property that is keeping them from being pushed around by larger, better funded competitors.

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