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Nest vows to fight Honeywell thermostat suit

Nest Labs barks back after being slapped with a patent infringement lawsuit and accuses Honeywell of trying to stifle innovation in smart thermostats with its "patent-attack strategy."

Screen capture by Martin LaMonica/CNET

Nest Labs today said it will "vigorously defend" itself from a patent infringement lawsuit filed by thermostat giant Honeywell.

The startup issued a statement two days after it got hit with the suit along with Best Buy, which sells its smart thermostat. The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction to halt the sales of Nest's Learning Thermostat.

Nest Labs' statement from today is:

"We at Nest are proud of creating products that bring true innovation to home efficiency and we are continuing to innovate and bring products to market. The Nest Learning Thermostat is already making a difference, saving customers energy and money. Nest will vigorously defend itself against Honeywell's patent-attack strategy to stifle thoughtful competition and we have the resources, support and conviction to do so."

Nest Labs, founded by former high-profile Apple engineers, has brought a dash of excitement to the sleepy business of programmable thermostats. Its sleek Learning Thermostat, which costs $250, creates a heating and cooling schedule based on a consumer's temperature settings after a few days.

It can also be controlled from a smartphone or computer. The product has gotten rave reviews from tech columnists and is currently sold out.

Honeywell's suit contends that Nest Labs engineers knowingly infringed at least seven patents. The suit claims that Honeywell has seemingly broad patent protection for a number of smart-thermostat features, including a "natural language" interface where people pick settings by answering questions on a display and drawing power from wires.