Control & Automation

ADT Reportedly Picks Zonoff for DIY Home Automation; Icontrol Seeks Injunction in New Patent Suit

Icontrol Networks files another lawsuit against Zonoff, claiming three new patent-infringement violations for security and home automation technology; action follows reported deal between ADT and Zonoff for new DIY smart-home system made by LG.


Icontrol Networks vs. Zonoff in security and home automation patent infringement lawsuits
Julie Jacobson · December 2, 2015

Icontrol Networks, a leading security and home automation platform developer, has fired the next salvo in its 2014 patent-infringement lawsuit against competitor Zonoff. In its latest complaint, dated Dec. 1, 2015, Icontrol seeks a jury trial and an injunction against Zonoff’s continued sales and marketing activities around three additional patents (itemized below).

Both Icontrol and Zonoff provide cloud-based platforms that allow consumers to monitor and control their security, surveillance, home automation (lighting controls, thermostats, door locks and other smart devices) remotely – a service sometimes known as Smart Home as a Service, or SHaaS.

Icontrol is a long-established firm that serves top-tier service providers including ADT (Pulse) and Comcast/Xfinity (Home). Zonoff is a relative newcomer with two notable projects: Somfy (TaHomA) for the window-coverings industry and Staples (Connect) for DIY consumers -- both of which seem to be winding down.

But Zonoff has been ramping up for something big, presumably ADT's newest DIY smart-home product being made by LG. In May of this year, CE Pro reported on rumors that Zonoff might be the SHaaS provider for this new product, featuring a surveillance camera with a built-in home-automation hub, not unlike Icontrol's Piper. In its latest claim, Icontrol cites these rumors as evidence that Zonoff has been marketing technology based on Icontrol's asserted patents.

Since May, CE Pro has learned from several sources that Zonoff has indeed won the ADT business, although Zonoff CEO Mike Harris declined to comment for this story, citing company policy. ADT has not yet responded to requests for comment.

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Icontrol vs. Zonoff: Where the Lawsuits Stand

Icontrol filed its original lawsuit in September 2014, alleging Zonoff infringed six Icontrol patents, covering remote home monitoring, wireless security, gateway communications and self-contained touchscreen systems. These six patents are shown below.

Since the original suit was filed, Icontrol and Zonoff have gone back and forth with arguments. Mediation was ordered several months ago, to no avail.

Then, on Dec. 1, Icontrol added three more patents to the claim (also shown below), indicating Zonoff knew or should have known about the allegedly infringing patents while pitching new customers (like ADT) with its own products and services.

"Despite having full knowledge of these claims, Zonoff continues its infringing conduct to this day," Icontrol asserts in its Dec. 1 claim.

 

Asserted Patents in Icontrol vs. Zonoff

Lawsuit filed Dec. 1, 2015 In the most recent filing, Icontrol claims Zonoff infringes on these three patents. Of note: Assignee uControl was acquired/merged into Icontrol in 2010.

 

  • 7,633,385 - Method and system for communicating with and controlling an alarm system from a remote server
    Filed 2007, issued 2009, assigned to uControl
    A communication system is provided that can be added to a legacy alarm system to provide a plurality of communication modes to a remote server system from the legacy alarm system and provide remote control and monitoring to a user of the system via two-way communication links. The communication system can be configured to communicate with an alarm processor of the legacy alarm system through use of a keypad bus typically used by the legacy alarm system for communication between the alarm processor and one or more keypads. Communication modes that can be provided by embodiments of the present invention can include, for example, communication over a public switched telephone network, cellular transmission, broadband transmission, and the like. The communication system can monitor all configured communication modes and determine which communication mode is the best for providing communication between the alarm system and the remote server. Through these communication modes and by virtue of being coupled to the alarm processor via the keypad bus, the communication system can provide both transmission to the remote server of the status and alarm condition of the legacy alarm system as well as provide control signals from the remote server to the legacy alarm system. The remote server provides pre-determined responses to information received from the alarm system, including providing alarm system condition information to a user or a monitoring station for response.

     

  • 7,956,736 - Method and system for communicating with and controlling an alarm system from a remote server
    Filed 2009, issued 2011, assigned to uControl
    A communication system is provided that can be added to a legacy alarm system to provide a plurality of communication modes to a remote server system from the legacy alarm system and provide remote control and monitoring to a user of the system via two-way communication links. The communication system can be configured to communicate with an alarm processor of the legacy alarm system through use of a keypad bus typically used by the legacy alarm system for communication between the alarm processor and one or more keypads. Communication modes that can be provided by embodiments of the present invention can include, for example, communication over a public switched telephone network, cellular transmission, broadband transmission, and the like. The communication system can monitor all configured communication modes and determine which communication mode is the best for providing communication between the alarm system and the remote server. Through these communication modes and by virtue of being coupled to the alarm processor via the keypad bus, the communication system can provide both transmission to the remote server of the status and alarm condition of the legacy alarm system as well as provide control signals from the remote server to the legacy alarm system. The remote server provides pre-determined responses to information received from the alarm system, including providing alarm system condition information to a user or a monitoring station for response.

     

  • 9,141,276 - Integrated interface for mobile device
    Filed 2011, issued Sept. 2015, assigned to Icontrol
    An integrated security system integrates broadband and mobile access and control with conventional security systems and premise devices to provide a tri-mode security network that with remote connectivity and access. The integrated security system includes a touchscreen providing security keypad functionality as well as content management and presentation, and is used as a security system interface and an interface for interacting with a network. The integrated security system delivers remote premise monitoring and control functionality to conventional monitored premise protection and complements existing premise protection equipment. The integrated security system integrates into the premise network and couples wirelessly with the conventional security panel, enabling broadband access to premise security systems. Automation devices can be added, enabling users to remotely see live video or pictures and control home devices via a personal web portal, mobile phone, or other client device. Users can receive notifications of detected events via electronic message.

Lawsuit filed Sept. 16, 2014 Here are the six patents that Icontrol claims Zonoff is infringing. Of note: Some of the patents are not assigned to Icontrol Networks per se, but Icontrol holds claim to them from an IP transfer several years ago.

  • 7,262,690 -Method and system for monitoring events
    Filed 2002, issued 2007, assigned to Mygard PLC
    The invention provides a monitoring and control system comprising a control unit for receiving signals from a variety of detection devicesmonitoring events pertaining to security. The control unit transmits information related to the reception of such signals to a remote monitoring station that stores and operates automatic evaluation routines to send an alert call to a chosen remote user terminal. The remote user terminal may conveniently be a PC, a PDA, a mobile phone or WAP enabled mobile phone, or a fixed line telephone. In some embodiments of the invention it may be possible to provide the monitoring station with transmitted information including verification of the event. The nature of the event and verification may be determined by the control unit or by the monitoring station. The invention also provides a control unit for receiving alarm signals generated by detection devices in response to detectable events, the control unit comprising interface unit for receiving generated signals and a unit for transmitting information relating to the generated signals to a remote monitoring station.

     

  • 6,624,750 - Wireless home fire and security alarm system
    Filed 1999/2001, issued 2003, assigned to Interlogix
    A wireless alarm system employs two-way transceivers in a network of smoke detectors , a base station, and other sensors. A keypad is not needed because the system is reset by pressing a Test/Silence button built into every detector or sensor. A siren is also eliminated because a sounder in every detector sounds an alarm when any sensor is triggered. This is possible because every detector includes a transceiver that can receive alarm messages from any other detector. AC power wiring is also eliminated because the base station and sensors are battery powered. Only a telephone connection is needed if the system is to be monitored. In apartments or dormitory installations, smoke detectors in one apartment relay alarm messages to the next apartment, and onto the next, and so on, to a centralized base station for the entire facility. The centralized base station can be located in an apartment manager's office for immediate notification of an alarm, improper smoke detector operation, low or missing battery indications, and dirty smoke detector indications. The two-way wireless alarm system can save many lives in apartments, where smoke detectors batteries are often depleted or removed.

     

  • 8,335,842 - Premises management networking
    Filed 2005, issued 2012, assigned to iControl Networks
    Some embodiments of a method for premises management networking include monitoring premises management devices connected to a gateway at a premises; controlling premises management devices connected to the gateway at the premises; receiving, at the premises, an uplink-initiation signal associated with a network operations center server; and in response to the uplink-initiation signal, initiating, from the gateway at the premises, communications between the gateway and the network operations center server; and communicating, during the communications between the gateway and the network operations center server, information associated with the premises management devices.

     

  • 8,612,591Security system with networked touchscreen
    Filed 2008, issued 2013, assigned to iControl
    An integrated security system integrates broadband and mobile access and control with conventional security systems and premise devices to provide a tri-mode security network that with remote connectivity and access. The integrated security system includes a touchscreen providing security keypad functionality as well as content management and presentation, and is used as a security system interface and an interface for interacting with a network. The integrated security system delivers remote premise monitoring and control functionality to conventional monitored premise protection and complements existing premise protection equipment. The integrated security system integrates into the premise network and couples wirelessly with the conventional security panel, enabling broadband access to premise security systems. Automation devices can be added, enabling users to remotely see live video or pictures and control home devices via a personal web portal, mobile phone, or other client device. Users can receive notifications of detected events via electronic message.

     

  • 8,638,211Configurable controller and interface for home SMA, phone and multimedia
    Filed 2009, issued 2014, assigned to iControl
    A single platform for controller functionality for each of security, monitoring and automation, as well as providing a capacity to function as a bidirectional Internet gateway, is provided. Embodiments of the present invention provide such functionality by virtue of a configurable architecture that enables a user to adapt the system for the user's specific needs. Embodiments of the present invention further provide for remote access to the configurable controller, thereby providing for remote monitoring of the state of a dwelling and for remote control of home automation.

     

  • 8,478,871 Gateway registry methods and systems
    Filed 2009, issued 2013, assigned to iControl
    A gateway device for managing a set of two or more local management devices at a location. A system for networks at a plurality of locations. A method of operating a gateway device in a control network. A method for storing information to operate a gateway device in a control network. A method for storing information to operate a replacement gateway device in a control network.

RELATED: Israel’s Largest Telco Bezeq is First with Home Automation Powered by Icontrol’s Piper (July 2015) More on ADT’s New LG Smart Camera: Is Zonoff the New Home Automation Partner? (May, 2015) SHaaS Provider Zonoff Raises $31.8M; Hires Staples Home Automation Exec (Dec. 2014) Icontrol Networks Files Patent Infringement Lawsuits Against Zonoff, SecureNet (Sept. 2014) Behind Somfy’s Tahoma System: A Sleeper Home Automation Engine (March, 2011)

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Whole House Control · Security · Surveillance Systems · News · ADT · iControl · Zonoff · All Topics
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