Raymarine nearly sold(?) & Honeywell’s holiday surprise

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

20 Responses

  1. Mason says:

    Intellectual Property suits are almost always a form of extortion. It takes forever to find people who can even adjudicate the matter, so the sued usually pay the litigator to go away. Everyone loses but the consumer most of all.

  2. Arnie says:

    Honeywell and Garmin are being sued by Pioneer.
    Nice to see the bottom of the legal profession slither out from under the rocks for the holidays.

  3. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Ho Ho Ho for Honeywell, or Ha Ha Ha !!!
    My analysis, based on seeing companies harassed or harassing others over IP and investigating the costs of protecting my own IP, is that this isn�t going to net Honeywell much at all.
    I have not pulled the entire text of the patents, but the relatively young age and summaries for all of them look very problematic.
    In the case of the autopilot, it�s clearly for aircraft. I am not a historian on auto pilot technology for boats, but quite possibly the autopilot capability in our boats pre-dates this patent making it a pointless. Is this just sloppy or attempting to add weight to some other weak patent in this mix? Also boat autopilots that I am aware of don�t technically use GPS to pilot unless thru integration with a chartplotter and even then they certainly can�t be described as functioning as follows �Maneuvers which were initiated and completed by the pilot during the rehearsal mission are then repeated during the automatic flight from the flight information stored in the memory.�
    The above is an example of a patent Garmin may already have encountered with Honeywell, given the aircraft side of their business, and if so has already dealt with it either as a nuisance or by paying royalties if it is legitimate. Many of the other patents, based again on the summaries, are either aircraft or automobile related, and Garmin again would probably be already past this.
    In the case of true north patent, is this a joke? GPS adds something incrementally, but otherwise other technologies have established true north utilizing inertial sensor systems since world war II. Not to mention, the products I am familiar with don’t use inertial sensor systems but rather flux gate to show heading, and when the GPS Course over ground (COG) value is shown for a boat that is not moving, it isn’t corrected by that flux gate value anyhow. Now that I see this patent, I wonder if that correction wasn’t done because the designers of charplotters are aware of this patent and so didn’t add the functionality to correct the COG with SOG=0? Even then, isn�t the use of another heading source to correct a GPS COG value an obvious thing to do as opposed to a new work of art?
    Lets just say for the moment the body of the patent I didn’t read covers all the bases, then what about all those iPhone�s out there that can determine true north, how much is Honeywell getting in royalties there? What would be a reasonable royalty per unit expectation for what Navaco, Raymarine, and Furuno should then pay? For that matter, why isn’t this suit aimed at Apple? Apple actually has an interial sensor in their latest iPhone and a volume of product that dwarfs the marine industry.
    I could go on, but I think I made the point. It would be interesting if a Panbo reader in the industry could answer these questions:
    – This can�t be the first time these companies have been harassed by patent holders. What has been the result of similar patent cases when aircraft patents are attempted to be applied in the marine environment? Or how about patents over how GPS and other technologies are incrementally applied to old technologies ?
    – How much money is at stake? Any royalties can only be applied to that portion of the product revenue Navico, Raymarine, and Furuno derive from the technology. On the surface these patents would seem to amount to 0.01% or less of the revenue of their product line. Even if they had to pay a 5% fee on the use of the technologies, the final numbers are really small (0.0005% of revenue or less).
    On the surface this seems more of an April�s Fools Joke than a nasty Christmas present. So instead of Ho Ho Ho for Honeywell, I am thinking Ha Ha Ha.

  4. StraightLace says:

    Honeywell tried to sue an avionics company on similar basis back in 2004. They lost! Now they expect to try the marine industry. I hope Raymarine counter sues.

  5. Labozza says:

    We’re forgetting about the impending sale of Raymarine, and the news that Garmin is no longer in the running. Remember, that unholy marriage would have been catastrophic. That includes both companies involved, as well as the consumer and end user. We saw what happened when Navico consolidated, no need to even go there. This means that whoever purchases the company will stick with what Raymarine knows, which is making product the way they’ve been doing since the Raytheon days. The prospect of a Garmin takeover would have given that conglomeration an instant 60% market share, and not being a fan of Olathe’s corn fed machinery, I can now swallow my vomit and breathe easy now that both said entities will continue to be independent competitors which will in turn promote the introduction of better technology to the market end of run on sentence.

  6. Arnie says:

    Back in the Raytheon days the recreational stuff was basically re-branded JRC.

  7. George says:

    I am really sick of patent lawsuits — they are one of the biggest wastes of time and money in our modern civilization.
    Years ago I started work at a new computer company. One of my jobs involved working with code that was modified daily by a large(ish) number of programmers. It never compiled without major effort since one of the programmers was guarenteed to have broken something. That was frustrating so I came up with a way of splitting up the programmer’s work so if one person’s code failed you could work with their previous day’s output.
    It was a pretty obvious computer science solution to the problem and took me about two nights to implement. There was even a feature in the operating system designed to do exactly this sort of thing, and what I was implementing was pretty similiar to how we had done it at my previous company. No big deal and I forgot about what I had done.
    Years later one of those programmers won a patent for our company. The title of the patent was fancy but it was basically what I had done years ago. By then a manager, it fell upon me to review the patent documents. Inside the packet sent off to the patent office was the heart of the code to prove the patent. It looked extremely familiar! In fact the coding style was a bit of a “blast from the past” since it was in a style that I had once had to go to great effort to unlearn.
    So it ended up that my company now held a patent on an idea that was blindingly obvious to any competent programmer, and an implementation that had taken me at most two days to write. (Most real work that I do takes months or years.)
    I read the patents too and can’t add much to Arnie’s excellent analysis except to note that it seems as if Honeywell is trying to assert that they own a patent on as basic an idea as using an external device to correct a GPS heading. I suppose if you check your GPS course with a magnetic compass mounted on your dash you will have to pay Honeywell a small, reasonable fee.
    Perhaps some legal drone in Honewell has a quota to meet.

  8. peter coupland says:

    I googled honeywell lawsuits,seems they took the lcd makers to court in 2004 and won.
    better case or better lawyers?who knows.
    Re Raymarine sale I hope it goes well cuz I don’t like Garmin,I have dealer experience with that blood sucking squid called Navico,that throws out Simrad,Northstar,etc.
    That leaves Furuno who don’t seem to have their stuff together either when it comes to Canadian charting for example.
    Geeze whats a boater to?
    I have money to spend now,for a full package,but
    my new radar pole remains empty for now.

  9. Russ says:

    Peter – If you’re buying an integrated system (radar / plotter), evaluate the charts available today (not the charts promised to be available very soon…) first and foremost. And consider the charts in all the areas in which you might operate in the next three years. If the charts are lousy, the rest of the system is irrelevant.

  10. H.L. Johnson, Esq. says:

    Honeywell’s complaint is pretty lame and vague. It’s best to plead sparsely, but there has to be something specific. I doubt if it can survive a motion to dismiss. The Federal Trade Commission already dismissed a similar complaint by Honeywell against Garmin.

  11. RK says:

    Honeywell’s “Learning Autopilot” patent in 1998 is a joke!!!!
    I worked on Anshuetz Adaptive Autopilots that were installed on Oil Tankers in the early 1980s…
    Furuno also had their “Advanced Auto”, Simrad copied it and calls it “No Drift”, mode on the FAP330/300 series in the early 1990s before the Honeywell patent as well. This is a GPS Line Of Position correction mode.
    The claims are all total BS and will be dismissed after the Honeywell Scumsucker Attorneys try to extract as much blood as possible from our cottage industry.

  12. Craig says:

    It is likely that the patent case will have minimal impact on the sale. These things pop up all the time for any reasonably sized company. It is a well-known “tax” paid to lawyers in exchange for doing business in the US.
    It is unreasonable to expect that modestly paid government patent examiners can oppose the inventers (experts in their field) working through expert lawyers. Thus patents are truly examined for the first time during the initial court case. Those cases are almost always presented in rural Texas where judges and juries have a history of quick patent convictions. Thus the real U. S. patent examiners are the citizens of rural Texas.
    Any reasonably sized company is notified of patent violations maybe monthly. Most of the time you are safe to simply send back a letter explaining why you don’t infringe. If it escalates into a real court case it can get expensive for both sides if it is the first time through for a particular patent application.
    Sometimes it is a big game of “chicken”. One of our customers once sued us for nonsense patent violations and we cut off their product supply (messing up a billion dollar product line of their own). Those lawyers were quickly fired by that company’s executives.

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I suspect it’s a mistake but here’s a bit of Raymarine ‘news’:
    “Shares in marine equipment supplier Raymarine slumped because Garmin decided not to bid for the whole company. The announcement was made after the market closed on Friday. Garmin will instead buy the operating subsidiary. Due diligence is being carried out.”

  14. Andy Murray says:

    Any more news on Raymarine?
    Shareprice still low must be time to make a payment to the banks soon ??

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sorry, Andy, I don’t know anything. Lots of people were hoping for an announcement during the Miami show, and the rumor that it’s FLIR who’s in the process of buying Raymarine was rampant, but no one from either company even winked about it. But the Raymarine folks seemed confident that something is happening, and I don’t think share price means anything at this point.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dam should have bought some when they were 2p!
    I can only assume they have had someone value the business and is offering that amount for it.

  17. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Wow, Raymarine has two more suitors, making three or four total (hard to keep track). One is a “direct competitor” though the likelihood of that deal is apparently dubious:

  18. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    I agree with most of what is written, although if I had written that article I would have sighted a couple of things:
    In the case of the autopilot patent, it’s clearly for aircraft. Boat autopilots that I am aware of don’t technically use GPS unless thru integration with a chartplotter and even then they certainly can’t be described as functioning as follows “Maneuvers which were initiated and completed by the pilot during the rehearsal mission are then repeated during the automatic flight from the flight information stored in the memory.”
    In the case of true north patent, is this a joke? GPS adds something incrementally, but otherwise other technologies have established true north utilizing inertial sensor systems since world war II. Isn’t GPS an obvious extension, not a new work of art? What about all those iPhone’s out there that can do this function, how much is Honeywell getting in royalties there?

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