ADT, which was suing Ring after the video doorbell company hired away most of the employees of Zonoff, has won a temporary injunction against Ring. The injunction, issued Thursday night, will stay in effect throughout the remainder of the trial between the two companies, and prevents Ring from selling its $199 Protect security system. With the holiday season coming, and competition heating up in the security market, the decision by the Delaware Chancery Court could become a big deal for Ring.
The drama started earlier in March after Ring hired almost all of the employees from Zonoff, a company that made smart home software. Zonoff had raised money from ADT and was working with the security company to build a smart home platform. However, Zonoff had been actively seeking a buyer since the middle of 2016. After a proposed acquisition fell through, Zonoff shut its doors. A day later Ring had made job offers to all of the Zonoff employees.
In a lawsuit filed in May, ADT argued that Zonoff had defaulted on a loan repayment and thus was entitled to Zonoff’s intellectual property, including tech that Zonoff had developed for ADT. ADT argued that Zonoff took that tech with it to Ring and it is being used in Ring’s security system.
The lawsuit has been in front of the court for the last few months. On Thursday the injunction was granted by Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster who said that “it would be tough” for Ring to argue at present that its current products don’t exploit ADT’s trade secrets.
The news broke on Law360, which has been following the case closely. Ring says that that the lawsuit was an example of ADT trying to delay the launch of a competing product and Ring’s attorney denied that Ring was using ADT-specific technology.
The situation is a mess, but it appears ADT has the judge on its side. ADT in October launched a new security product that combines SmartThing’s hub and software with ADT’s current monitoring. Ring launched Protect in October, adding sensors and a keypad to its outdoor cameras and video doorbell. Also in October, Wink and Nest both launched security products as well. Honeywell followed up this month with an all-in-one security product.
Clearly, companies are viewing security as the gateway to a smart home and everyone wants to fight for their share of the market. It makes sense that ADT has to hop on this trend, even though DIY sensors are a very different product from ADT’s professionally installed, monitored security contracts. If it takes Ring out of the equation, it can prevent a company that has had tremendous success selling security to consumers from further disrupting the market.
I’m still curious though, what it plans to do about Nest, SimpliSafe, Abode and the myriad other options out there.