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Google loses bid to overturn $20 million Nest patent verdict

Post Time:2024-06-04 Source:Reuters Author:Blake Brittain Views:

June 3 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Monday upheld a jury's verdict that Google's (GOOGL.O) Nest smart thermostats infringed a patent owned by energy-management company EcoFactor and that Google should pay $20 million in damages.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected Google's arguments that evidence did not support the Texas jury's infringement ruling and damages award.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the ruling. Representatives for EcoFactor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Palo Alto, California-based EcoFactor sells smart home energy-efficiency services through utilities, HVAC companies and broadband providers. It sued Alphabet's Google for patent infringement in Waco, Texas federal court in 2020, arguing that the tech giant's Nest thermostats use EcoFactor's patented method for automatically reducing energy usage during peak demand.

Google denied the allegations and argued EcoFactor's patents were invalid. A jury determined in 2022 that Google infringed one of the patents and awarded EcoFactor just over $20 million in damages.

The Federal Circuit on Monday denied Google's request to overturn the verdict. U.S. Circuit Judge Jimmie Reyna wrote for the majority that the infringement finding was supported by substantial evidence and rejected Google's argument that the proposed damages rate from EcoFactor's expert was "plucked out of nowhere."

Judge Sharon Prost in a partial dissent said she would have granted Google's request for a new trial on damages, arguing that the majority opinion "at best muddles our precedent and at worst contradicts it."

Prost said that EcoFactor's expert "conjured the [damages] rate from nothing, and the majority's treatment of his analysis cannot be squared with our law or the facts."

The case is EcoFactor Inc v. Google LLC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 23-1101.