ICC, NFPA settle out of court

Sunday, October 1, 2006

QUINCY, Mass.--Detente, in the form of an out-of-court settlement, was reached in mid August between two prominent code-making entities, the International Code Council and the National Fire Protection Association.
The settlement includes provisions to reduce future disputes. In addition, the NFPA said it received an undisclosed amount for legal feels and costs associated with this and other litigation.
In separate statements, both groups said they were confident that they would have prevailed in the courts, but were pleased to move ahead.
How does this affect fire installers and integrators? Not directly, but representatives from both groups said the agreement enables them to focus on the job at hand--code making.
"The agreement allows us to get back on track and not be diverted by lawsuits," said Steve Daggers, spokesman for ICC.
While tensions may have thawed, the relationship between the two groups still appeared to be frosty.
The disputes are not something constituents would notice, NFPA general counsel Maureen Brodoff said, but she did call the ICC lawsuits "spurious" and said that the agreement, "protects our right to produce quality standards without fear of future lawsuits from ICC."
The settlement concerned three disputes having to do with trademarks. The first involved a 2002 suit where the ICC sued NFPA in a Chicago federal court saying the NFPA infringed on the ICC International Building Code copyright. The second involved a suit filed in Massachusetts in 2003 in which NFPA brought suit against the ICC for trademark infringement and violation of a 1999 settlement agreement with the NFPA's International Electrical Code Trademark. The third dispute in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office involved the use of the phrase "certified building official." Under the agreement, NFPA can use an "NFPA-Certified Building Official.
The NFPA celebrated its 110-year anniversary this year. The ICC is much newer, at 12 years old, but it is a consolidation of three much older code-making entities.