iControl sues Alarm.com over Interactive Home Automation, Security
iControl Networks, which powers cloud-based home automation and security services from Xfinity/Comcast and ADT, sues major competitor Alarm.com for patent infringement
iControl Networks, the cloud-based home automation and security platform that powers remote home management services from Xfinity/Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and ADT (Pulse) has sued one of its biggest competitors, Alarm.com, for patent infringement. (The other biggie is Honeywell Total Connect, which has not been sued.)
Founded in 2000, Alarm.com serves more than 1 million subscribers, selling its services through independent security and home-control dealers. It is an add-on service for alarm systems from Interlogix (formerly GE Security) and 2Gig by Linear.
In addition iControl founded in 2005, is suing one of Alarm.com’s customers, FrontPoint Security, which sells both Interlogix systems and the Alarm.com service to do-it-yourselfers.
In its complaint, iControl alleges that FrontPoint had inside information about iControl technology under NDA, which FrontPoint passed along to Alarm.com (details below).
Interestingly, Alarm.com sued yet another cloud-based service provider Telguard for patent infringement just two months ago. Telguard, a subsidiary of cellular provider Telular, had announced a new home automation platform, Telguard HomeControl for use with 2Gig security and automation systems.
That platform, in turn, is powered by iControl.
Curiously (as I noted in May), Alarm.com chose to go after Telguard for marketing the iControl-based solution, rather than iControl itself for creating the underlying technology.
I wrote at that time:
It appears that Telular has not created the remote monitoring system that is Telguard HomeControl. Rather it is simply providing the radios to communicate with the iControl service.
I wonder also where all of the other providers of remote monitoring and alarm alerts fit in.
iControl’s Patent Infringement Claims
7,911,341 - Method for defining and implementing alarm/notification by exception (2011)
Methods, systems, gateways, and servers are provided for by-exception notification to a user when an event does not occur at a premises. An interface is provided through which a user can define a time window and an event capable of being sensed by a device at the premises. A server records the first event and the first time window and communicates these to a gateway at the premises. A gateway sets up an automation to detect the first event during the first time window. Devices detect if the first event occurs during the first time window. If the first event does not occur during the time window, the gateway indicates to the server the non-occurrence of the first event. The server sends notification to the user of the by-exception event. Methods, systems, gateways, and servers combine event notification upon the occurrence of an event with by-exception event notification.
7,262,690 - Method and system for monitoring events (2007)
The invention provides a monitoring and control system comprising a control unit for receiving signals from a variety of detection devices monitoring 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 (50) 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
8,073,931 - Networked touchscreen with integrated interfaces (2011)
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.
8,335,842 - Premises management networking (2012)
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.
8,473,619 - Security network integrated with premise security system (2013)
An integrated security system is described that integrates broadband and mobile access and control with conventional security systems and premise devices to provide a tri-mode security network (broadband, cellular/GSM, POTS access) that enables users to remotely stay connected to their premises. The integrated security system, while delivering remote premise monitoring and control functionality to conventional monitored premise protection, 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 (cameras, lamp modules, thermostats, etc.) can be added, enabling users to remotely see live video and/or pictures and control home devices via their personal web portal or webpage, mobile phone, and/or other remote client device. Users can also receive notifications via email or text message when happenings occur, or do not occur, in their home.
(Same as above)
To examine the patent infringement claims by Alarm.com against iControl partner Telguard, see: Alarm.com Sues Telguard/Telular over Cloud-Based Security, Home Automation
Did FrontPoint Divulge iControl’s Trade Secrets to Alarm.com?
On the surface, it might seem strange that iControl would single out one Alarm.com dealer (a big one, at that) when the provider has hundreds or thousands of other dealers.
Then we learn in the complaint that iControl blames FrontPoint for enjoying an inside look at iControl technology under NDA under the guise of becoming a customer ... and then shared the information with Alarm.com, which created similar technology which eventually was adopted and sold FrontPoint.
iControl claims two Goldman Sachs bankers, Chris Villar and Aaron Schumaker, and their security consultant Peter Rogers, founder of FrontPoint in 2007.
At that time, Villar and Rogers approached iControl with an interest in licensing iControl technology, visiting the company in May.
From the lawsuit (transcribed by CE Pro):
At iControl, FrontPoint entered into a mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement with iControl and was then introduced to iControl’s proprietary technology. In a series of technical and business discussions, iControl educated Mr. Villar and Mr. Rogers on iControl’s product roadmap and technology, including how iControl had added Z-Wave technology (including lighting, thermostats, and appliance control) to traditional security systems, such as the GE Simon XT. iControl demonstrated the use of mobile and web-based clients in the iControl system, specifically for us in controlling Z-Wave devices, including lighting, appliances, and thermostats and Wi-Fi cameras for live video and event-based photos.
On May 31, iControl then provided an evaluation system to Mr. Villar to help him understand the more detailed operation of the iControl system, in particular its integration with the GE Simon, its video management capabilities, remote access from mobile phone devices, and the utilization of its Z-Wave local area network.
After receiving positive feedback from FrontPoint on the evaluation system, on July 6, 2007, iControl provided a detailed demonstration of the server management tools and infrastructure that FrontPoint could utilize to manage Z-Wave and GE Security-based systems in the field. As a part of this demonstration, FrontPoint was exposed to iControl’s proprietary tools and architecture whereby the iControl system utilized server objects to manage the corresponding security or Z-Wave devices in the home.
After continuing discussions in July of 2007, iControl then introduced FrontPoint to the new interactive touchscreen that iControl was developing in conjunction with GE Security. Peter Rogers expressed positive feedback on the touchscreen, which allowed a consumer for the first time to both control an alarm system and also present and interact with web-based content through a combination of interfaces tailored for home security, home control and management, and interactive internet content such as weather, sports, news, and traffic. iControl and GE Security launched the new interactive touchscreen based on iControl’s technology in 2008.
Following these discussions, in November of 2007 Mr. Villar indicated that it was FrontPoint’s intention to go forward with Alarm.com for basic wireless security functionality and that Mr. Villar was interested in working with iControl later, particularly when the new touchscreen technology was integrated into a GE Security panel. All information provided by iControl during its discussions with FrontPoint was and is still covered under the mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement between the parties, which explicitly restricted FrontPoint from sharing any such information.
According to FrontPoint’s website, “FrontPoint partnered with Alarm.com to provide the wireless cellular technology included in every FrontPoint alarm system.” The website further states, “FrontPoint is the only home security provider named alarm.com’s Preferred Dealer for Easy Installation. FrontPoint is also the only Alarm.com dealer operating in all 50 states.”
On information and belief, Alarm.com originally focused its business on the development of pager-based and later cellular-based home security alarm monitoring with basic remote control of the alarm system. Since 2009, Alarm.com’s purported business focus has been the delivery of wireless and web-enabled security and activity monitoring technology for residential and commercial customers.
On information and belief, on April 1, 2009, Alarm.com launched its first video monitoring product and its first mobile application, with a set of cameras that were not integrated with the Alarm.com radio module. Alarm.com indicated that the solutions enabled a consumer to remotely control their video cameras and alarm system from a mobile phone, including the iPhone.
On information and belief, on June 15, 2010, alarm.com launched its first home management product, EmPower, which for the first time integrated the Z-Wave local area networking technology with the Alarm.com radio module. Alarm.com indicated at this time that its users could “remotely monitor and change their thermostat settings” and “lock and unlock doors, even when remote.”
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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