Only Online - USGlass October 2006
Legislation & Legal News:
ICC Settles Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against NFPA
"The time had come to put all these disputes behind us," said Rick Weiland, ICC chief operating officer. "We would rather focus on serving our members and the public than continue to spend a lot of time and money on lawsuits."
In 2002, the ICC sued NFPA in Chicago federal court alleging that NFPA infringed the copyright in ICC's International Building Code®. Under the terms of the settlement, ICC has withdrawn the lawsuit "with prejudice," meaning the ICC's copyright infringement charges against NFPA have been given up and can never be brought again. The terms of the settlement also limit, in various ways, ICC's ability to sue NFPA with new allegations of copyright infringement in the future.
In separate litigation filed in Massachusetts federal court in 2003, NFPA brought a suit against ICC for trademark infringement and for violation of a 1999 settlement agreement. That case involved ICC's use of NFPA's International Electrical Code® trademark as well as other similar trademarks. In the settlement, ICC has agreed to discontinue using the challenged trademarks and to take other steps to ensure that ICC will not infringe NFPA's marks in the future.
A third dispute in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office involving the use of the phrase "certified building official" has also been resolved in a manner that will allow NFPA to register its certification marks, "NFPA-certified building official" and "NFPA-CBO."
As part of the settlement of these disputes, ICC has agreed to pay NFPA an undisclosed amount of money for legal fees and costs associated with the litigations.
"We were confident we would win the cases, but at tremendous expense into the millions of dollars," said Weiland. "We want to invest our resources in public safety and in the thousands of communities across the country that use our family of International Codes."
"NFPA is very satisfied with the outcome we were able to achieve," said Maureen Brodoff, vice president and general counsel. "NFPA doesn't believe it's in the interest of standards organizations to sue each other over copyrights, but given that we were sued, we defended ourselves vigorously and ensured our right to continue publishing our building code and offering the services that we offer."
© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc.
All rights reserved.