Mike Isaac

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Nest Labs Strikes Patent Deal With Intellectual Ventures

Nest ThermostatSmart-thermostat company Nest Labs has made a deal with Intellectual Ventures, one of the largest U.S. intellectual property holders, to license an unspecified number of patents from the IP giant.

In addition to the nonexclusive rights licensing, Nest will also acquire a number of patents of interest to the company, “including systems and methods for automatic registration of devices,” according to a statement released on Wednesday morning.

While the exact nature of the patents in the deal are not made clear, it is likely a defensive move by Nest Labs in response to an ongoing lawsuit the company has faced from Honeywell, one of the world’s largest makers of consumer thermostat devices and systems.

Honeywell filed suit against Nest in February of 2012, claiming that Nest’s flagship smart thermostat — a sleekly designed product that claimed to save consumers from expensive energy bills and able to be controlled via smartphone or tablet — infringes upon at least seven specific Honeywell-owned patents.

It’s worth noting that the licensing agreement also keeps Nest Labs from potential litigation from Intellectual Ventures itself, a firm which has taken an aggressive stance filing suit against companies it believes violate its intellectual property. The firm is notorious for being considered a patent troll — an entity which acquires intellectual property for the express intent of filing suit against other companies — by many in the technology industry.

“Nest is very aggressive in bringing new technologies to market and our patent strategy — including the decision to acquire patents like those from Intellectual Ventures — is designed to keep pace,” Richard Lutton, Jr., vice president and general counsel at Nest, said in a statement. “Our patents allow us to defend our innovative products in the market.”

Spokespersons from Nest Labs did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the nature of the patent deal. A Honeywell spokesman also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik