Top Litigated Patents and Litigious Companies in Home Automation

Like any other market space, home automation is not untouched by litigation activities by patent owners and licensing companies. If a litigation offers a way to enforce patent rights, it also poses challenges to the operating companies. Therefore, in this competitive technology space, the operating companies need to keep an eye on the litigious patents/owners and how these may impact them in the future.

Also Read: Know The Home Automation Company That Got Acquired In Billions

In order to identify the top patents in home automation, Sagacious IP used its proprietary automated patent ranking algorithm. Results showed that amongst the ranked patents, some of them were involved in litigation as well. The top assignees/companies involved in litigations related to the said patents are listed below:

S. No.Top Litigious Assignees
1M2M SOLUTIONS
2IOT IP
3ALLURE ENERGY
4BLACKBIRD TECHNOLOGIES
5CLEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS

Furthermore, Sagacious IP’s patent litigation database shows the following litigations of these top assignees:

  1. M2M SOLUTIONS, total litigations – 4
  2. IOT IP, total litigations – 5
  3. ALLURE ENERGY, total litigations – 4
  4. BLACKBIRD TECHNOLOGIES, total litigations – 10
  5. CLEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS, total litigations – 16

Though these top assignees have multiple litigations, brief litigation details of some of the crucial cases are mentioned below:

1. Allure Energy vs. (Nest Labs, Green Mountain and Reliant Energy)

Case Status: Closed

  • Complainant: Allure Energy is the original assignee of the patent at rank #4 US8509954 in the Automated Ranking. It is a Delaware corporation having a principal place of business in Austin, Texas. Notably, the company has filed complaints for US8442695, US8509954 and US8571518 against Nest Labs, Green Mountain and Reliant Energy.
  • Patent Details: All the three patents in litigation are related to a method for auto adaptation of operating condition for an appliance to conserve energy. US8571518 is the broadest patent among all three patents is related to controlling operation of a thermostat. The thermostat has a built-in proximity detection module which is used for the detection of presence of the user where thermostat is kept. Based on the detection of presence of the user, the operation of the thermostat is altered. For example, if the user is not near the thermostat, it’s in away mode, as a result thermostat switches off and vice versa.
  • Defendant: Nest Labs, Inc. (“Nest Labs”) is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business at Palo Alto, CA. Nest Labs is engaged in the manufacture, sale, and offer for sale of smart thermostats under the name “Nest Learning Thermostat”. Using built-in sensors and user’s phone locations, it can shift into energy saving mode when it realizes that nobody is at home.

Also Read: The Smart Home Technology and the Future

2. Clean Energy Management Solutions vs. Smartlabs Inc.

Case Status: Closed

  • Complainant: There are three home automation patents owned by Clean Energy Management Solutions in the list of ranked patents, out of which patent US8035479 is involved in 16 litigations. Clean Energy Management Solutions is a Texas limited liability company with a place of business located at Plano, Texas. Notably, the company has filed complaint for US8035479 against Smartlabs Inc.
  • Patent Details: The patent US8035479 discloses a method for enhancing home or business automation and security. A security code is sent remotely from the mesh network key to one or more appliances such as door locks over a mesh network. The code is received at a mesh network controller which provides an access to the secured area upon authenticating the code.
  • Defendant: Smartlabs Inc. is a California company with a place of business located at Irvine, California which sells products with the name Insteon Home. Insteon Home is a home control system that integrates door locks using mesh network connectivity. It sends a code to unlock a door and provide access to a secured area using a mesh network. The code for locking and unlocking is received at the lock controller which enables the locking/ unlocking of the door. Therefore, the home unlocks the door upon authentication of the code.

3. M2M Solutions LLC vs. Amazon.com, Inc.

Case Status: Ongoing as on Jan 2020

  • Complainant: There are 11 home automation patents owned by M2M Solutions in the list of ranked patents, out of which family of patents US8577359, US8577358, US8504007, US9961477, US10038989 are involved in litigation. M2M Solutions is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, having a principal place of business at Shepherdtown, West Virginia. Notably, the company has filed a complaint for all the above-mentioned patents against Amazon.com.
  • Patent Details: The patents are related to a method for remote asset management. Firstly, the computer server platform can remotely receive and process consumer usage information, indicative of how consumers have made use of the assets. Further, on that basis, the computer server platform generates wireless management instructions for causing automatic modifications to be made to those assets, thereby transforming their state. One of the patents involved, i.e., US8577359 is extremely broad and can find application in real-time GPS vehicle guidance system and vehicle diagnosis. This case is still open.
  • Defendant: Amazon.com operates an infringing wireless Machine to Machine system that serves as a consumer services platform (called “Whispernet”) for providing technology-based services to users of consumer device assets consisting of Kindle e-reader devices, Fire tablets running preloaded Kindle reading applications software, and/or other non-Amazon smart phones, tablets, and computers running Kindle reading applications software (collectively, ‘Kindle E-reader devices’). The infringing system is thus referred to as Amazon.com’s ‘Kindle E-reader ecosystem’. Within the Kindle E-reader ecosystem, Amazon.com’s remote computer server platform receives and monitors consumer usage information indicative of how consumers have made use of their Kindle E-reader devices. Such information includes data relating to the ‘Annotations’ (e.g., notes, highlights, bookmarks), ‘Last Page Read’ (including analogous data for voice, videos, and gaming), ‘Cloud Collections’, ‘Popular Highlights’, etc. On the basis of processing some or all of this information in accordance with its so-called “Whispersync” functionality, the computer server platform generates wireless management instructions that cause automatic modifications desirable and beneficial to consumer users to be made to the display data content files stored in nonvolatile memory on one or more of the Kindle e-reader devices.

Way Forward

Companies in the Home Automation space have been constantly filing patents owing to the rapid growth and innovation in the sector. Despite taking precautions while patent filing, companies are affected by patent litigations which not only stifle innovation, but also lead to increased competition. In line with the above discussion, Sagacious IP recently undertook a project to help one of its clients achieve measurable results by ranking their patents using its propriety patent ranking tool. However, apart from the said patent ranking services, we, at Sagacious IP, pride ourselves in delivering other world-class IP services as well. To know more about our services click here.

-Pallavi Sinha (ICT Licensing) and The Editorial Team

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