Remember when, last October, we’ve been telling you about Nest, the company founded by ex-Apple Chief Architect Tony Fadell, who wanted to enter the market with a revolutionary smart thermostat? Yes, the thermostat has been innovative, but its conception is now contested by none other than Honeywell, who filed a lawsuit against Nest for more than seven patent infringements.
A fresh startup, Nest is backed by Google Ventures (perhaps there’s a link between Fadell and Google’s Eric Schmidt, an ex-Apple board member), Kleiner Perkins and Al Gore (also a board member at Apple) and has gathered some tens of millions of dollars for developing the smart thermostat that they’re now selling through retailer Best Buy, who was also mentioned in the lawsuit.
While I don’t think Honeywell sued for nothing, I also think Nest hasn’t stolen any ideas voluntarily. Among the multitude of innovations Honeywell may have had at some points in time, there may have been more than one resembling Nest’s, but that doesn’t necessarily gives them the moral right to sue, especially if they haven’t brought any of those ideas to the market and probably never will.
Have you ever seen the movie “Tucker: The Man and His Dream?” Well, if you haven’t, I recommend it. What’s happening now to Nest is like taken from the movie, but I don’t want to believe it’ll have the same ending – it would be like putting a cap on innovation and killing it from its infancy.
Nest will defend itself, that’s for sure, but for how long? Katie Fehrenbacher from GigaOM has a few more details on what’s behind the curtains.