North Carolina residents may appreciate the ability to carefully manage household appliances and systems through smart technology such as the Nest thermostat. However, development of such smart products can involve legal challenges if the technology used by one company closely mirrors patented technology belonging to another company. In the case of the Nest thermostat, a dispute arose between Honeywell and Nest over patents.
Nest, which was acquired in 2014 by Google, released a smart thermostat in 2011. However, a lawsuit was filed the following year as Honeywell alleged that the company infringed on its patents. The companies announced their settlement of the matter on May 5, 2016.
An agreement has been reached to accommodate cross-licensing between the two entities over time. Those involved in the founding of Nest include a former employee of Apple, who was reportedly a major contributor to such technological successes as the iPhone and iPad.
Because the technology industry tends to advance rapidly, companies with important developments may find it important to carefully protect their intellectual materials through patents. A company may also find that it is crucial to create non-disclosure agreements related to the sharing of trade secrets. Business disputes can often result in litigation when it involves intellectual property. However, other situations might be better handled through licensing agreements that benefit both parties having an interest in a given technology. As litigation can be both time-consuming and prohibitively expensive, it may behoove the respective attorneys for the parties involved in such a dispute to attempt to settle it outside of the courtroom through negotiations or arbitration.