01
Apr
By John Presper
On March 30, 2021, the ITC issued a Notice of Investigation in Certain Smart Thermostat Systems, Smart HVAC Systems, Smart HVAC Control Systems, and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-1258).

By way of background, this investigation is based on a February 26, 2021 complaint filed by EcoFactor, Inc. of Palo Alto, California (“EcoFactor”) alleging a violation of Section 337 by ecobee Ltd. of Toronto, Canada, ecobee, Inc. of Toronto, Canada, Google LLC of Mountain View, California, Carrier Global Corporation of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Emerson Electric Co. of St. Louis, Missouri, Honeywell International Inc. of Charlotte, North Carolina, Johnson Controls International, PLC of Ireland; Siemens Industry, Inc. of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and Siemens AG of Germany (collectively, “Respondents”) in the unlawful importation and/or sale in the U.S. of certain smart thermostat systems, smart HVAC systems, smart HVAC control systems, and components thereof that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,423,322 (“the ’322 patent”); 8,019,567 (“the ’567 patent”); 10,612,983 (“the ’983 patent”); 8,596,550 (“the ’550 patent”); and 8,886,488 (“the ’488 patent”).

According to the complaint, the ’322 patent generally relates to relates to a smart HVAC control system that is configured to compare the inside temperature of a structure and the outside temperature over time, and to compare the inside temperatures recorded at multiple different times to determine whether operational efficiency of the HVAC system has decreased over time; the ’567 generally relates to a smart HVAC control system that is configured to compare the inside temperature of a structure and the outside temperature over time, and to compare the inside temperature with estimation for the rate of change in temperature to determine whether operational efficiency of the HVAC system has decreased over time; the ’983 patent generally relates to a smart HVAC control system that is configured to receive sensor measurement, data from a network connection, and temperature setpoint, is configured to predict the time necessary for the HVAC system to reach a temperature value, and to cause the building to reach the temperature by a time value; the ’550 patent generally relates to a smart thermostat system that is configured to access stored inside temperature and outside temperature measurements, predict the rate of change in inside temperature in response to changes in outside temperatures, calculate scheduled programming for a thermostatic controller based on the predicted rate of change that includes at least one automated setpoint, and compare the automated setpoints with the actual setpoint programming for the thermostatic controller; and the ’488 patent generally relates to a smart HVAC control system that is configured to control an HVAC system at a first location, receive inside temperature measurements from the location and store them in a database, receive outside temperature measurements from a source other than the HVAC system, calculate one or more predicted rates of change in inside temperature based on the status of the HVAC system that are correlated to the outside temperature(s), and to compare a predicted temperature based on the predicted rate of change with an actual inside temperature measurement.

EcoFactor is requesting that the Commission issue a permanent limited exclusion order and a permanent cease and desist order directed to Respondents. According to the Notice of Investigation, the Office of Unfair Import Investigations will not participate as a party in the investigation. Lastly, Chief ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued a notice indicating that ALJ Cameron R. Elliot will preside in the investigation.
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