Patent war brews big bucks

A new type of cold war has taken over the tech world

Nor did it do anything to stop the continued flood of new patents streaming out of the agency: Last year the office set a new record by granting nearly 250,000.

There's also a newer, even more unsettling problem: The big companies that once complained about trolls are now treating them like role models.

According to the New York Times, last year was the first in which Apple and Google spent more on patent lawsuits and acquisitions than they did on research and development for new products. In August, Apple won a $1 billion patent-infringement judgment against competitor Samsung.

Nest may have deeper pockets than most, but they still aren't as deep as Honeywell's. In early October, Nest announced that six of Honeywell's seven patents had been rejected in re-examination by the patent office. Yet Honeywell has so far refused to budge.

Which means that, ultimately, Nest may be the next to learn the most important rule of modern invention: The best weapon against someone else's patents is a stockpile of your own. 

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