ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: http://www.law.com
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
Apple's Former Patent Guru Joins Startup With 'Smart' Thermostat ProductRichard "Chip" Lutton, Apple's former chief patent counsel, has joined "smart" thermostat maker Nest Labs as its first general counsel. Lutton and Nest founder Anthony Fadell both worked at Apple for years. Lutton is largely credited with building Apple's now formidable patent portfolio, and Fadell helped create the iPod and iPhone.
The Recorder2012-04-18 12:00:00 AM
Things are heating up at Palo Alto-based Nest Labs Inc.
Apple Inc.'s former chief patent counsel, Richard "Chip" Lutton, has joined the maker of a "smart" thermostat as its first general counsel.
"They have great people and a great product that I really believe in," Lutton said in an interview last week. "It's going to transform the industry."
The Mississippi native largely credited with building Apple's now formidable patent portfolio left the company at the end of last year.
Lutton said he wanted to take some time off and spend time with his family, and wait for the right job to come along. That job was Nest, he said.
Lutton and Nest founder Anthony Fadell had both worked at Apple for years. Fadell, one of the engineers who helped create the iPod and iPhone, ran Apple's iPod division until stepping down in 2008, but he stayed on as a special adviser to Steve Jobs until severing ties completely in March 2010. He founded Nest that same year.
The two reconnected after Lutton left Apple, and Fadell brought him on as an IP adviser early this year.
Now as general counsel, Lutton will oversee all aspects of Nest's legal issues, but not surprisingly, he'll be focused primarily on the company's intellectual property.
"It's a company where I believe I can actually make a difference," Lutton said. "The company is fundamentally about innovation, and that makes IP really important. All those elements made Nest the place I wanted to be."
There's already plenty of work to keep him busy. In February, competitor Honeywell International Inc. filed a patent infringement suit against Nest in Minnesota federal court, claiming that the "Nest Learning Thermostat" infringes seven of its patents.
Nest's attorneys at Fish & Richardson filed an answer Thursday denying the allegations, saying that "even if the patents covered what Honeywell alleges, they are hopelessly invalid."