Haier Europe Eases Off On Legal Threat And Seeks Dialogue

After initially sending a cease and desist order to [Andre Basche] – the developer of a Haier hOn plugin for Home Assistant – Haier Europe’s head of Brand and IoT has now penned a much more amicable response, seeking to enter into dialogue in search of a solution for both parties.

This latest development is detailed both in the ongoing GitHub issue, as well as the Takedown FAQ and Timeline document that [Andre] created to keep track of everything that’s going on since we last checked in on the situation. As things stand, there is hope that Haier Europe may relent, especially as the company’s US division has shown no inclinations to join in on the original C&D.

In the confusion following the initial C&D announcement demanding the take-down of [Andre]’s hOn-related repositories, it was not clear to many which Haier was involved. As it turns out, Haier Europe as a separately legal entity apparently decided to go on this course alone, with Haier US distancing themselves from the issue. In that same Reddit thread it’s noted that GE Appliances (part of Haier US) has had a local API available for years. This makes Haier Europe the odd one out, even as they’re attempting some damage control now.

Amidst this whirlwind of developments, we hope that Haier Europe can indeed reach an amicable solution with the community, whether it’s continued API usage, or the development of a local API.

40 thoughts on “Haier Europe Eases Off On Legal Threat And Seeks Dialogue

      1. You shouldn’t trust any company ever. They are not your friends. Their loyalty extends as far as you positively affect their bottom line and no further. If there’s a thought that screwing you will be a net positive to them over the loss of customers all companies will do so.

    1. In principle yes. But if any company starts throwing lawyers at you, you first must have the budget to counter their imputations with your own lawyers, I suppose.- And for most of us private tinkerers, we neither have spare time nor spare money :D

      1. Nippey: Jan 22nd, 3;16am: That’s why anonymity is important. So long as anonymity is done well lawyers cannot threaten a tinkerer who they cannot tie to a physical world address. Ofcourse hosting a major project anonymously may have some practical difficulties, having to VPN every time you commit an update, having to make sure nothing in your code inadvertently reveals a name, nickname, email address, mac address… And under anonymity you can’t get the full credit you might want for a project. But it is lawyer-proof. Anonymously shared data can take on a life of its own, beyond the reach of lawyers and the corporations and governments that hire them.

    2. If he is German: We have really nice laws about “hacking”.
      Just recently someone was called guilty for opening a exe with a texteditor, finding a cleartextpassword and accessing a database where he thought was just data of his customer. But it turned out: One Database with full access for all users of that software.
      And badabing badaboom, the company of that software sued him, because he reported it to them.
      Of course he appealed and it will go to a higher court.

      TLDR: Costumer rights and data protection on paper is nice, but in Germany you can get sued for using a texteditor (or pressing F12 in your browser)

      1. This case was heard and judged by an “Amtsgericht”. That is the lowest entry in jurisdiction, these judges sometimes decide by finding facts in Kraft ihrer eigenen Wassersuppe[1]. They know they will be overturned/corrected in the next step, so they don’t care much. They might make a big fuzz out of their judgement just to enlarge the case and give it a unique standing with the hope that the parties won’t seek the next level of jurisdiction. This would state an unique case decision with lotsa (media) attention but beeing totally meaningless, because we don’t have case law here.

        [1]: Kraft ihrer Wassersuppe: power of his own watery soup. It as a malapropism of someone deciding something due to the power of office, not recognizing that his power looks like a soup mainly made of water and no stuff in it that gives any taste+power…

    3. The issue here is that the HA plugin doesn’t free the device from its corporate overlords, what it’s doing is using the API on the servers of the corporate overlords as though it’s the app made by the corporate overlords.
      I don’t think there is a legal basis for Haier, certainly not an “intellectual property” one, and especially as the developer is in open communication with Haier.

          1. Hear, hear!

            TIL: “Hear, hear” is an abbreviation for “hear, all ye good people, hear what this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say!”

            Leave it to British Parliamentary procedure

          2. Hmmm… how do we know we can’t bill them… Can’t say I’ve ever heard of somebody trying to submit a bill for that and that being the case I can say with near 100% confidence I’ve never heard of somebody failing to collect from an attempt to collect (admittedly most likely due to my ignorance on said subject) but is it possible that we’ve all just assumed that somebody tried and failed and failing that if they did that they would fail in their attempt? Any chance that it turns out that nobody has actually tried or those they have brought some ultra weak sauce in their attempt? Maybe people just need to start submitting bills and see what happens? I’ve submitted bills to companies for shit that technically they owed me for but I thought no way in hell will I ever see a dime for this until a few weeks later a check for a couple hundred bucks shows up in the mail and I am left dumbfounded by the whole thing, they either just rubber-stamped it without looking at it or somebody actually had a conscious and agreed that said item was a billable expense and put it through. Hard to imagine it would cost you a heck of a lot more than a sheet of paper, a fraction of a cents worth of toner, an envelope and a postage stamp to find out…. call it a $1 experiment. Willing to bet the odds of payout are significantly better than blowing it on a lottery ticket and you’ll probably get a higher payout if you succeed as well! I mean I’m just saying… Ya know?

          1. It’s username and password protected, and it’s used by the account holder, hard to argue unauthorised. “Not accessed in the way we envisaged” is more like it.

          2. More likely violation or TOS we all signed off on when opening the app. More likely than not there’s some boiler plate bs prohibiting us from accessing their systems by means other than through their official app as well as preventing us from disassembling or modifying their app to allow us to access their system in ways we could not otherwise do which we are forced to agree to before we even are allowed to create a username and password and failing to agree will make the app terminate on the spot and not allow us to go any further without us accepting the TOS. (Don’t get me wrong – Kirk ftw but when it comes down to it, TOS rarely but on occasion can come across as nonsensical standard boiler plate technobabble when compared to DS9 which generally had some of the best writing of any series… dang it – I’m a doctor not a lawyer…. wait I’m not even a doctor?!?!? Some how I’ll find a way to blame Vulcan logic as the reason I got the wrong tos!!!! Or did I??? 🖖🫶😂

    4. A few things here. Europe is a continent, that includes the UK, Russia, Switzerland etc. You are talking about the EU, not Europe. Two unrelated things, as in the past there were talks of letting two Asian countries join the EU as well. Besides that, this isn’t a right to repair issue or consumer rights issue. The way the plugin works is that it uses the servers of Haier. In most cases, the apps are using a very limited API call. The HASS plugin however, can generate tons of API calls which can cost Haier more money to operate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of plugins like this, but this can be a reasonable argument by Haier. You sell an X amount of devices, of that, an X amount will be connected and you expect X amount of API calls. When that amount is tenfold, you need more expensive servers, etc. On the other hand, having that available, would be a reason for people to purchase a device like this so they would sell more devices to HASS users. I personally prefer it to be local and not connected to the internet, but others don’t mind.

  1. Not surprised. I have one of their Candy washer dryers that connects to the internet via their app( which is awful), and after an update it failed to connect and deleted my details. Then after 18 months of back and forth with tech support I got no where, only to be told I had used the wrong email, and how did I get that email. Erm you told me to use that one. Mind you that was after I had said I could use my Home Automation system (Loxone based) to communicate with the machine. I even helped with the Home Assitant forum to decode various data strings that the machine sent out.
    People wouldn’t have to resort to using Home Assitant or similar if their app just worked and was easy to use.
    They really are an awful company for customer service.

    1. Serious question… do you really find it useful having an internet connected washing machine?

      There might be some small advantage to me somewhere, but I can’t think of anything life-changing that it offers that I haven’t managed perfectly well without for the last 40 years. The whole IoT thing just looks like yet another MultiMegaCorp data mining exercise to me.

      1. Totally, when you have solar and you can set the washing machine as ready to wash, when the solar goes over a production threshold then on goes the machine.

        As to the MultiMegaCorp data mining, that’s what HA does well in a lot of cases. It removes the reliance on the corps and can take machine control and reporting to local network level. Note: this plugin is an exception tho.
        I’ve bought many products, very cheap which the producer has gone under and turned of the services, they work perfect within Home Assistant.

      2. Something doesn’t have to be ‘life-changing’ to be worth doing, your argument here could be applied to almost anything – do you really need a phone? A computer? A car? A house? There’s perfectly good caves you could live in.

        If something provides a marginal improvement, that’s often enough to justify its existence. I can immediately imagine one good use for a washing machine app: send a notification when it’s completed so I don’t leave wet clothes sitting needing to be moved to the dryer, or so I can put another load on right away when I’ve a ton of laundry. Yes, I could just check in every so often, but a notification is marginally better and would let me put the washing machine out of my attention so I could spend it on something else.

        Is that enough to justify sending data to corporations? For one person, yes, for another, no. I’d definitely strongly prefer local-only home automation, but other people just don’t care.

      3. It’s nice to get notifications 5 minutes before a wash and dry cycle are completing, and when they complete, especially if there are many loads to do in a day or a weekend. The cycle time on the display at the beginning of the cycle is more an estimate than a fixed value; for example if the load in the washer is imbalanced the machine will partially refill, tumble the clothes a bit more in each direction, and try the spin cycle again. The dryer has moisture sensors and will adjust the drying time appropriately (sometimes much shorter). Anyway, it saves a lot of time checking on the machines, and allows a more efficient workflow.

        It’s also kind of cool to have the washer tell the dryer which cycle to use based on the washing conditions.

        Are these required to get my clothes cleaner or dryer? No. But they do make the laundry process just a little bit more pleasant, and my machines are on their own subnet away from the rest of my network.

      4. Having the possibility to let the washing macine start when the electricity price is low is a plus.

        And even more important, often the wash will start to smell if you leave it for hours after finished. A notification about completion is therefore useful. I added this functionality via a smart plug measuring the power consumption, reporting locally to Home Assistant, and I find it very useful.

        There should be a legal requirement for a local API for all connected devices. And without built-in certificates or other time bombs.

  2. I used Haier’s “contact us” form last week to let them know I would be excluding their appliances from consideration in my future purchasing decisions. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

    1. You were not. I did that as well.

      That said, it sounds like their main complaint was a noticeable uptick in the usage fees of their AWS account. Rather than reaching out with an offer of technical assistance, they reached out with a C&D. A little tone deaf and ham-fisted, to be sure, but it sounds like the plugin developer was polling their API every 5 seconds, which is definitely too often.

      Perhaps it’s a chance to use long-polling, a trick I just recently learned about. https://blog.fanout.io/2016/11/21/moving-from-polling-to-long-polling/

      1. “Rather than reaching out with an offer of technical assistance, they reached out with a C&D. A little tone deaf and ham-fisted, to be sure,”

        I think it sucks, but it’s probably true that tactics like this (threaten and back down) are probably actually better for the company in the long run anyway. In some sense, it’s a filter for “is it worth us supporting this thing,” and popularity-wise, I’m not sure it actually hurts them – I mean, we’re talking about 5 days from start to finish here? That’s actually pretty impressive turnaround.

        1. That’s a valid point. There is the adage that any PR is good PR.

          And a visceral response from an external group can raise awareness at the C-exec level in a way that can be hard for engineers to do internally. Its the kind of thing that can turn a company’s policies around in ways that are beneficial to both parties.

          In my “contact form” missive, I suggested they research the history of the WRT54G and how it blossomed into one of the most successful FOSS/hardware partnerships in history. Full OpenWRT support has been a prerequisite for any home infrastructure hardware I buy for the last decade. I’ve even used it successfully in enterprise environments (eg. for securely accessing a server’s iLO/iDRAC from afar).

      2. I dunno, while 5s might be a bit of a tight loop for an appliance, it seems perfectly withing the bounds of reasonable design to me. It seems like their infrastructure isn’t properly designed if that frequency causes noticeable increases in hosting costs.

  3. Large Corporations monitoring your every move; how much milk you have in the fridge, what you buy online, what you buy with your credit card, who you meet up with.

    Monitoring everything using YOUR mobile phone, YOUR vehicle, YOUR smart TV, YOUR smart watch, YOUR Wifi Network, YOUR Bluetooth device, YOUR personal Data, YOUR security camera.

    Making money selling YOUR movement and YOUR contact data and even YOUR DNA. But when it comes to a crappy API. “Hey, don’t touch our shit!”

    Three words! Go F Yourselves.

    Boycott the crap out of any company doing any of this.

  4. Good for them for paying attention enough to make a course correction. You have to keep in mind with big companies like this that these decisions aren’t company-wide unified policies. They’re a cloud specialist assigning an intern to track down the uptick in AWS cost, who then finds a name to blame, and forwards it to legal. Legal doesn’t understand Open Source, APIs, or what’s really going on. Legal has the C&D hammer, and everything is nail-shaped.

  5. I still fail to understand why someone would want their washer connected to the internet. Do they get updated instructions on how to wash clothes? Buy soap automatically from amazon? (creepy)

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