Who’s at Ring’s Door? It’s Skybell with a Patent Lawsuit

Skybell Technologies, an Irvine smart doorbell startup, has filed a lawsuit claiming its Santa Monica competitor, Ring, copied its technology and is profiting from advertising and marketing techniques rather than innovative software and hardware.

The lawsuit states that Ring knowingly used technology from three Skybell patents after Skybell's chief executive, Joe Scalisi, sent an email to Ring founder Jaime Siminoff that included a link to the company's patent portfolio in the signature.

Oleg Elkhunovich, one of Skybell's attorneys, said he does not know the nature of the email conversations between the CEOs, but Siminoff's response to one email demonstrated that he knew about the patents.

One of Ring's patents also references art in a Skybell patent.

"Ring has every right to attempt to compete with Skybell via hype rather than innovation," the lawsuit states. "What Ring may not do, however, is compete by theft."

Skybell alleges that Ring now uses Skybell's patented system for detecting people from different angles. The company also claims Ring copied another patent that included a live-view feature enabling users to record the scene from their doorbell as it happens. Lastly, Skybell alleges that Ring copied a feature that allows users to select a doorbell tone on their mobile device and then upload the sound file to their doorbell.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court, is a clash of two Southland start-ups with similar products but different strategies.

Ring, founded in 2012, has raised more than $209 million with the help of investors such as Richard Branson and Goldman Sachs, and partnered with Shaquille O'Neal in May to install Ring doorbells in Jonesboro, Ga., homes.

The startup, formerly named DoorBot, also gained attention after being featured on ABC's "Shark Tank" in 2013. It was denied funding, but the visibility helped drive the company to $5 million in sales and to rebrand.

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