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Crestron/Extron Fight Over Interface - Crestron Responds

by August 08, 2008
I think they should be fighting over the "tron" in their names. But thats just me.

I think they should be fighting over the "tron" in their names. But that's just me.

According to Extron, Crestron, one of the leading names in AV automation and control, has sent a very "Monster-ish" letter to them over their GlobalViewer Enterprise (GVE) interface claiming it looks and feels too much like Crestron's own interface dubbed RoomView Server Edition. The problem arises not in a claim that Extron stole from Crestron, but that consumers will become confused between the two.

Considering that Extron's GVE is FREE that doesn't seem too likely.

They do have a point, however, that the interfaces are remarkably similar. Take a look at the two screen shots below and judge for yourself.

RV-SE_Rooms.jpg globalviewerent-lg.jpg

Crestron's RoomView Extron's GlobalViewer

Heck, the names of the companies sound the same and the "View" in both products is capitalized and without a space. But whether or not Crestron's claim will hold water in court is a different matter. Most of Crestron's complaints (you can read them all here) center around how the interface looks and some of the terminology Extron uses. Unfortunately, the layout isn't all that unique (Crestron certainly can't patent the three column page) and the terminology is fairly common ("at a glance," "hot list") and used by a large number of different organizations and interfaces.

One sticking point seems to be that Extron indicates on their website that their interface will work with Crestron's products. While this is technically true, if you drill down enough you find out that they mean that their interface is open and a competent programmer could write code that would allow the two to work together.

Extron's President Andrew C. Edwards responded in full to Crestron's claims and printed the response online. What was interesting was that he not only addressed his comments to Crestron but also to AMX - another huge player in the home and professional AV automation market. Apparently, Edwards wants to kill two birds with one stone and head off any thoughts AMX might have of making similar claims.

Or maybe he was pointing out that AMX's MeetingManager software is ALSO similar to Crestron's RoomView and Extron's GlobalViewer. AMX's interface is three column and even uses the term "hot list." If Crestron is going after Extron, why isn't it going after AMX as well?

Competition is such markets is fierce especially when the number of clients is limited. If Extron is offering something similar for free, perhaps the problem Crestron is having is not the similarities in design but the disparity in pricing.

Crestron Official Response 08/08

(statement by Randy Klein, Crestron Executive Vice President)

"First, and most important, Crestron NEVER threatened or implied any legal action or lawsuit against Extron. We think it’s unfortunate that Mr. Edwards chose to take this issue pubic and publish it on his own website, an action that certainly is not in the best interest of building and supporting our industry. We will continue to successfully market and support our RoomView product, and are confident it will remain the most widely used remote monitoring and management tool in the marketplace."

In light of the this official response from Crestron, it is obvious that there is more to this story than meets the eye. We will stay at attention to see how this pans out but from our birds eye view thus far, it seems to be more of a misunderstanding between the two organizations in question than anything else. Why can't we all just get along?

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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