News

Crestron Calls Savant Lawsuit a ‘Publicity Stunt’

Home automation giant claims it has lost business as a direct result of Savant’s “baseless” lawsuit filed last September; alleges newcomer interfered with dealer/end-user contracts.


Julie Jacobson · June 21, 2011

Turnabout is fair play – and quite common – in the legal world. Indeed, Crestron is lashing back at Savant Systems, which sued the home automation giant last year for alleged antitrust violations and other illegal conduct.

Crestron filed a counterclaim last week, seeking treble damages against Savant for its alleged “publicity stunt” in filing a lawsuit in the first place.

CE Pro has examined the documents in this latest filing.

As it noted in an earlier response to Savant, Crestron reiterates that it must not be engaged in illegal anticompetitive behavior if it is in fact losing business to Savant (and others):

Crestron has faced and continues to face vigorous competition from competitors, including, but not limited to, AMX, Control4, Elan, HAI, iControl, Niles, LeGrand, LiteTouch, Lutron, RTI, SpeakerCraft, URC, and Vantage.

Crestron’s Counterclaims

Crestron makes the following claims against Savant:

  • Tortious Interference with Advantageous Business Relations
  • Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations
  • Unfair and Deceptive Acts or Practices in the Conduct of Trade Under M.G.L.A. c. 93A

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RELATED: Crestron Sues Big Savant Dealer
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Crestron claims that it has lost business as a direct result of Savant’s “baseless” lawsuit filed last September on the eve of CEDIA Expo 2010. Since then, sales have declined 13% compared to the year-earlier period, and the effects of the lawsuit and its publicity still linger, according to Crestron:

Distilled to its essence, Savant’s lawsuit against Crestron represents a publicity stunt and an effort to tarnish Crestron’s reputation in the industry, and with the general public. …

Savant schemed to tarnish Crestron’s image just as the trade show got underway by filing a baseless lawsuit against Crestron. …

As Savant intended, the filing of its suit on the eve of the CEDIA Expo, and its publicity regarding the same, had a significant impact on Crestron’s anticipated sales from the Expo. As a result, Crestron’s investment of time and substantial capital in preparation for the Expo were largely wasted.

Crestron has also experienced a disruption of sales it otherwise would have made during and after the CEDIA Expo. Since September 2010, Crestron sales have decreased compared to sales for comparable periods from the prior year. The adverse effects of Savant’s publicized claims continue to this day.

In addition, Crestron accuses Savant of engaging in a “flip” program, knowingly interfering with Crestron contracts and relationships, and converting erstwhile Crestron customers to Savant:

Savant’s unfair and unlawful efforts to interfere with Crestron’s contracts and relationships have succeeded in numerous instances. On one or more occasion, a project initially committed by a dealer to incorporate Crestron automation and control products has been switched at the eleventh hour to Savant. On at least one occasion, Crestron hardware and products had already been shipped to the dealer for integration and installation when Savant caused the “flip” of this deal to Savant.

Crestron cites at least one dealer involved in such flips – Cyber Sound and Security LLC, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based integrator and former Crestron dealer that recently switched loyalties (and about $1 million in business) to Savant.

Crestron has also filed a suit against Cyber Sound.

Crestron asserts:

Savant intended to induce these dealers to breach their contractual obligations with Crestron. Savant was motivated to gain illicitly the business that had already been promised to Crestron.

Finally, Crestron claims that if Savant is missing out on business, it’s because the newcomer is intentionally limiting its distribution:

Savant has attempted to attract dealers to carry its products by promising some measure of “exclusivity” — i.e., that a dealer would be an “exclusive” Savant dealer in a particular region or area. In addition, in an effort to attract dealers to its network, Savant has proclaimed that its strategy and intentions are intentionally to limit the number of Savant dealers nationwide. [Emphasis in original.]

RELATED | Savant vs. Crestron
Crestron Sues Big Savant Dealer (6/21/2011)
Crestron Files Countersuit Against Savant Systems (6/17/2011)
Savant vs. Crestron: Inside the Legal Documents (6/3/2011)
Savant vs. Crestron: Get the Court Documents Here (6/3/2011 - CE Pro Plus)
How Cyber Sound Leverages Apple to Thrive in Down Market (4/6/2011)
Savant Lays out Claims Against Crestron in Court Documents (9/25/2010)
Savant Sues Crestron for Alleged Antitrust Violations (9/22/2010)



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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


News · Crestron · Lawsuit · Savant · Savant v Crestron · All Topics
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