Sipco LLC (Sipco) is an Atlanta, Georgia-based developer of wireless mesh technology. In a previous post, I wrote about Sipco’s patent infringement suit targeting Florida Power & Light and its smart grid rollout in Miami-Dade County.
Last month Sipco sued various companies that offer smart meters, lighting products, home and building automation systems and energy management solutions for patent infringement in the Eastern District of Texas.
The named defendants are Energate, Ecobee, Rainforest Automation, SmartSynch, AMX Corporation, SimpleHomeNet and CentraLite Systems.
The complaint (sipco-energate-complaint.pdf) mentions only a few products by name, including the AMXhome control system and CentraLite’s Jetstream lighting control system.
The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,103,511, 6,914,893 and 7,697,492, which relate to remote monitoring and control systems.
The ‘511 Patent is directed to a wireless communication system for use in an automated monitoring system.
Claim 1 of the ‘511 Patent is directed to a system comprising a plurality of wireless transceivers, each having an associated unique identifier, that receive sensor data from remote devices and transmit the unique identifier and the sensor data signal to a site controller that passes on the information to a wide area network and ultimately to a host computer.
The ‘893 Patent description is representative of the inventions in the asserted patents and discloses a control system (200) that includes several stand-alone transceivers (211, 213, 215, 221) and integrated transceivers (212, 214, 216, 222, 224).
The integrated and stand-alone transceivers are configured to receive an incoming RF transmission (from remote devices) and to transmit an outgoing signal.
Local gateways (210, 220) receive remote data transmissions from the integrated or stand-alone transceivers, analyze the transmissions, convert them into TCP/IP format for internet transmission and communicate the transmissions via wide area network, or WAN (230).
According to the ’893 Patent, this system improves upon prior systems that required the development and installation of an application-specific local system controller and were susceptible to a single point of failure if the local controller breaks down.
I suspect we’ll see more of Sipco and its patents in the near future. With each new lawsuit, Sipco further establishes itself and its remote monitoring systems patent portfolio as a force to be reckoned with in the burgeoning smart grid and energy management solutions industry.
Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at email@example.com.