Control & Automation

Lutron Sues Legrand, QMotion over Multiple Lighting and Shade-Control Patents

In lawsuit, Lutron claims Legrand and its subsidiaries (Watt Stopper, Pass & Seymour, QMotion) infringed on patents involving wallbox dimmers, fluorescent lighting controls and remote-control form factors that resemble Lutron's Pico remote.

Lutron Sues Legrand, QMotion over Multiple Lighting and Shade-Control Patents
Lutron alleges Legrand infringes on patents pertaining to the Pico remote-control design, dimming for fluorescent bulbs, and wallbox dimmers programmable via on-board LEDs.

Julie Jacobson · October 24, 2017

Lutron has sued rival Legrand on multiple patent-infringement claims concerning lighting controls, two-way feedback for home automation, and remote controls that resemble Lutron’s Pico controller.

Also named in the suit are Legrand subsidiaries Pass & Seymour, Watt Stopper and Current Products Corp, dba QMotion.

Subsequent to the original lawsuit filed in August 2017, Lutron dismissed QMotion from the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning Lutron can sue again and the dismissal does not imply non-infringement.

“As a competitor that Lutron has previously sued for patent infringement,” Lutron claims in the suit, “Legrand is well aware of Lutron’s portfolio of active patents.”

Indeed, Lutron has sued and settled with most of the key manufacturers of lighting controls that contain wireless transmitters within the wallbox dimmers.

The following are the patents that Lutron alleges Legrand has infringed.


Two-wire dimmer circuit for a screw-in compact fluorescent lamp 

#8,242,714, August 14, 2012

#8,704,459, April 22, 2014

Fluorescent bulbs require a ballast for proper illumination, and the ballasts traditionally have been too large to incorporate into the fixture itself. Instead, the ballasts tend to reside in a separate junction box. Today, however, screw-in fluorescent bulbs are sold with integral ballast circuits built in.

“Since the screw-in compact fluorescent lamps have different operational characteristics than incandescent lamps, the dimmer circuits used for the screw-in incandescent lamps are not able to appropriately control the screw-in compact fluorescent lamps.”

Lutron’s patent describes a dimmer switch that can be used to control fluorescent or incandescent bulbs with the flip of a dip switch or automatically.

Lutron claims these Legrand products infringe on the patents: Adorne ADTP703TU and ADTP703H lines; Radiant RH703PTU line; and Harmony H703PTU line.

Patent Abstract:

A dimmer switch for controlling the intensity of a dimmable screw-in compact fluorescent lamp provides smooth dimming of the fluorescent lamp and prevents flickering of the lamp due to multiple re-strikes. The dimmer switch prevents multiple re-strikes by avoiding multiple firings of a controllably conductive switching device of the dimmer circuit by limiting the high-end light intensity of the fluorescent lamp. Specifically, the dimmer switch limits the length of a conduction interval of the controllably conductive switching device to less than approximately 75% of each half-cycle. The dimmer switch may include a user-accessible adjustment actuator for changing the dimmer switch between an incandescent operating mode and a screw-in compact fluorescent mode. The dimmer switch may also be operable to automatically change the dimmer switch between the incandescent operating mode and the screw-in compact fluorescent mode by detecting the occurrence of the multiple firings of the controllably conductive switching device.


System for control of devices 

#6,803,728, October 12, 2004

The crux of this patent revolves around status feedback for a two-way control system. A control device like a keypad sends a command to a hub, and the hub passes the command to the dimmers. The keypad delivers status reports back to the hub, which disseminates the feedback to keypads and other controllers to ensure the controllers are synced with the dimmers.

Lutron claims Legrand infringes on the patent with its QMotion remotes, including the ZigBee Multi Channel Remote, Range Extender and controlled devices such as ZigBee HA1.2 shades.

Patent Abstract

A wireless control system for lighting or the like has a central processor that receives commands from keypads and other control devices, and sends commands to dimmers and other controlled devices. The central processor also receives status reports from the dimmers and sends updates to the keypads, in order to ensure that displays on the keypads are up to date.


Lutron patent (left) shows programming via local actuators and LEDs; Legrand's Adorne ADWR700RMTU switch allegedly infringes.

Programmable wallbox dimmer 

#7,663,325, February 16, 2010

Programming a dimmer via onboard LEDs. The programmer jumps through a few hoops by using the air-gap switch and a combination of taps on the dimmer toggle to enter the programming mode. Then the user cycles through the LEDs via the toggle to program select features for the dimmer. For example, the second LED might represent the mode for fade times. The programmer refers to a menu that explains how to program the fade time using the dimmer toggle. The settings are stored in the dimmer itself.

Lutron claims Legrand infringes with its Adorne ADWR700RMTU, ADTP700RMTU lines and the Radiant LC2101 line.

Patent Abstract:

A programmable wallbox dimmer is disclosed. Upon entering a programming mode, the dimmer presents a main menu from which the user may select one or more features to program. The user may scroll through a list of programmable features by actuating the dimmer's raise/lower intensity actuator. The user may select a highlighted feature by actuating the dimmer's control switch. The dimmer may enter a value selection mode that is associated with the selected feature. In the value selection mode, the user may scroll through a list of features that define the selected feature by actuating the dimmer's raise/lower intensity actuator. The user may select a value for the selected feature. The selected value may be stored in the dimmer's memory.


Wireless battery-powered remote control having multiple mounting means 

#9,024,800, May 5, 2015

Remote control for a wireless load control system 

#9,361,790, June 7, 2016


These patents appear to be little more than the form factor of Lutron’s Pico remote, being a battery-powered wireless controller that slips into a wall-mounted holder about the size of a typical light switch and faceplate. The remote can fit into a standard Decora faceplate.

Lutron claims Legrand infringes with its Qmotion remotes for motorized shades, including the Gen 3 Single Channel Remote, QdR Gen 3 Multi Channel Remote, ZigBee Multi Channel Remote and the QMotion Drapery Remote.

Patent Abstract:

A remote control for a wireless load control system, the remote control comprising: a housing having a front surface and an outer periphery defined by a length and a width; an actuator provided at the front surface of the housing; a wireless transmitter contained within the housing; and a controller contained within the housing and coupled to the wireless transmitter for causing transmission of a wireless signal in response to an actuation of the actuator, the wireless transmitter and the controller adapted to be powered by a battery contained within the housing; wherein the length and the width of the housing are slightly smaller than a length and a width of a standard opening of a faceplate, respectively, such that the outer periphery of the housing is adapted to be received within the standard opening of the faceplate when the housing and the faceplate are mounted to a vertical surface.

Caption


Secure Your Free Pass to CEDIA EXPO 2019

Register before Sept. 2 to gain free access to the opening keynote, product training & education series as well as the show floor including Innovation Alley and much more. Don’t miss your chance. Sign up today.




  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

Follow Julie on social media:
Twitter · LinkedIn · Google+

Julie also participates in these groups:
LinkedIn · Google+

View Julie Jacobson's complete profile.



  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · Lighting · Motorized Shades · News · Legal · Legrand · Lutron · Patent · QMotion · All Topics
CE Pro Magazine

Read More Articles Like This… With A Free Subscription

CE Pro magazine is the resource you need to keep up-to-date on the latest products, techniques, designs and business practices. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Comments

Posted by Niko on November 30, 2017

And don’t forget that a decade ago, a certain company ripped off Radio Ra (classic) and ended up having to pay for it. Lutron leads, and these little bottom feeders follow.

Posted by Niko on November 30, 2017

Everything I’ve seen from Legrand is terrible and they lack many original ideas. Their Adorne line is ugly and difficult to install I have only seen it once out in the wild when in 90% of the luxury houses, I see Lutron’s standard wiring devices. They tried to get into automation game by buying the once great Vantage company but instead of making them better, they have managed to add a heavy corporate footprint and alienate dealers. Instead of focusing on innovation and offering a cloud product, they are trying to follow the money and get into the shade game.  Lutron is the much better company top to bottom and they are an American company instead of a Le French company.

By the way JMCdermott, you don’t think Legrand makes you pay to get trained?  You think it’s easy to be one of their dealers?  You don’t think have minimum annual purchase requirements?  Think again.  At least Lutron is loyal to their dealers.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on October 25, 2017

Indeed, defendant can challenge the validity of the patents in cases like these. See this one on UEI vs. URC. https://www.cepro.com/article/court_spanks_uei_over_payback_lawsuits_against_urc

Posted by VR500 on October 25, 2017

For clarity, the “someone” who granted the Lutron patent is the United State Patent and Trade Office.  They are not in the business of granting requested protections in patent applications lightly. I understand that some may view some elements of the patent a stretch, but the USPTO uses a rigorous process to scrutinize applications and the protections requested by the applicant, and they do not grant protections unless they have merit. Now, when a patent holder files a lawsuit, claiming a competitors product violates their patent, is another matter entirely. It is simply a claim and doesn’t mean a court will automatically agree with their argument.

Posted by jmcdermott1678 on October 24, 2017

All too often I feel like filed patents are in need of more strict regulation.  So because someone allowed Lutron to patent having their remote attach magnetically to a decora-like wallplate, no one else can do the same?  Ridiculous. Lutron, I’m not a dealer of your shades because you wanted me to PAY for a three day course in PA on all of your products, and sell them, when all I wanted was shades.  I know this is shocking, but it has nothing to do with getting a little magnetic remote like yours from QMotion.  I understand the need to protect patents, but some of these are a stretch (as usual), and patents on such vague elements really shouldn’t be permitted.  The two-way control system patent?  Umm, this is how zigbee controls work.  How is this patent infringement?  Oh, because someone actually gave that to Lutron.  I want to replace my entire comment here with “eyeroll”.  This stuff never ends.

Posted by jmcdermott1678 on October 24, 2017

All too often I feel like filed patents are in need of more strict regulation.  So because someone allowed Lutron to patent having their remote attach magnetically to a decora-like wallplate, no one else can do the same?  Ridiculous. Lutron, I’m not a dealer of your shades because you wanted me to PAY for a three day course in PA on all of your products, and sell them, when all I wanted was shades.  I know this is shocking, but it has nothing to do with getting a little magnetic remote like yours from QMotion.  I understand the need to protect patents, but some of these are a stretch (as usual), and patents on such vague elements really shouldn’t be permitted.  The two-way control system patent?  Umm, this is how zigbee controls work.  How is this patent infringement?  Oh, because someone actually gave that to Lutron.  I want to replace my entire comment here with “eyeroll”.  This stuff never ends.

Posted by VR500 on October 25, 2017

For clarity, the “someone” who granted the Lutron patent is the United State Patent and Trade Office.  They are not in the business of granting requested protections in patent applications lightly. I understand that some may view some elements of the patent a stretch, but the USPTO uses a rigorous process to scrutinize applications and the protections requested by the applicant, and they do not grant protections unless they have merit. Now, when a patent holder files a lawsuit, claiming a competitors product violates their patent, is another matter entirely. It is simply a claim and doesn’t mean a court will automatically agree with their argument.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on October 25, 2017

Indeed, defendant can challenge the validity of the patents in cases like these. See this one on UEI vs. URC. https://www.cepro.com/article/court_spanks_uei_over_payback_lawsuits_against_urc

Posted by Niko on November 30, 2017

Everything I’ve seen from Legrand is terrible and they lack many original ideas. Their Adorne line is ugly and difficult to install I have only seen it once out in the wild when in 90% of the luxury houses, I see Lutron’s standard wiring devices. They tried to get into automation game by buying the once great Vantage company but instead of making them better, they have managed to add a heavy corporate footprint and alienate dealers. Instead of focusing on innovation and offering a cloud product, they are trying to follow the money and get into the shade game.  Lutron is the much better company top to bottom and they are an American company instead of a Le French company.

By the way JMCdermott, you don’t think Legrand makes you pay to get trained?  You think it’s easy to be one of their dealers?  You don’t think have minimum annual purchase requirements?  Think again.  At least Lutron is loyal to their dealers.

Posted by Niko on November 30, 2017

And don’t forget that a decade ago, a certain company ripped off Radio Ra (classic) and ended up having to pay for it. Lutron leads, and these little bottom feeders follow.