Volume 42, Issue 4 - April 2007

News Now
NFRC Holds Spring Meeting, Continues to Move Forward on CMA Development 

With more than 200 negatives, or comments, to address, the National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC) component modeling approach (CMA) ratings subcommittee had a lot to work through during the NFRC’s spring 2007 Membership Meeting, which took place March 5-8 in Austin, Texas. 

There was progress at the meeting, with about 80 percent of the negatives being addressed. The latest issue: Framing system manufacturers being allowed to serve as Approved Calculation Entities (ACE). While the glazing infill and spacer are relatively easy because they have a limited number of components, the framing system selection is more complex as a result of having multiple possible components. The NFRC board of directors reversed course and allowed manufacturers to serve in this role. 

“The framing system manufacturers are the ones who will be the most familiar with their own products and therefore would be the least likely to make a mistake in selecting products from the databases,” says Greg Carney, technical director for the Glass Association of North America (GANA).

But there wasn’t agreement on whether 100 percent of the calculations would be double-checked by independent sources. The subcommittee membership voted down that idea and decided to have a task group develop a proposal for reconsideration by the NFRC board of directors.

“We want to see research done on frame grouping this summer,” says Jim Benny, executive director of the NFRC. “We want to see that done so we can put those changes into the technical document.”

Manufacturers are also having a hard time getting their arms around the cost of product/project certification. In fact, price concerns were one of the leading sources of negatives in the process. “The membership does not get to vote, nor should they, on the cost of the program,” Benny says. “It opens up antitrust issues.”

But NFRC does plan to provide some information on the cost of the program between now and July. 

Also important to the process is getting feedback from other industry groups such as the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Construction Specification Institute (CSI).

“The subcommittee approved a motion to ask NFRC staff to send the current draft product certification program to these organizations for their input,” Carney says.

Because of the movement on CMA, GANA executive director Stan Smith thought the meetings did offer some hope.

“There was a considerable amount of give and take over the last couple of days,” Smith says. “It looks like things are shaping up with greater consideration for the commercial side of the industry.”

Still, he’s not ready to call it a success. “We don’t know how the board will react to some of the recommendations from the committees and subcommittees,” Smith says. “We’re cautiously optimistic. There are some issues that are still out there but have yet to be resolved.”

Benny sounded a bit more hopeful. “I think we had progress on all the fronts,” he says. “There were a lot of things that were considered.”

The NFRC’s next meeting is scheduled to take place July 23-26 in Denver.—by Les Shaver

Also During the NFRC Meeting...
While CMA took center stage, the NFRC spring meeting produced news on other fronts as well:
IG Certification: The NFRC board tasked a subcommittee with making insulating glass (IG) certification required for NFRC certification. The subcommittee will report on its findings during the summer meeting in Denver.
Thermal Comfort Ratings: There will now be a subcommittee, chaired by Jim Larsen with Cardinal Glass Industries and Peter Lyons with Peter Lyons & Associates, which will look at developing a comfort rating for windows. Right now, Larsen says he’s looking at three or four possible ratings systems.
Storm Windows and Doors: The technical committee carried a motion to allow the storm window and door task group to look at ratings for storm windows. It will use the “reference window methodology” used for film attachments as a starting point.

SAFTI FIRST Wins Patent Infringement Lawsuit 
San Francisco-based SAFTI FIRST Fire Rated Glazing Solutions™ won a $1 million patent infringement lawsuit against Jerry Glass and his various companies. 

The litigation began in 2005 when SAFTI FIRST filed legal action before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claiming Glass violated Patent No. 5,910,620 assigned to SAFTI FIRST’s SuperLite I-XL. The lawsuit alleged that SAFTI FIRST provided Glass with a bid to install the SuperLite I-XL products in fire- and safety-rated locations at a Beverly Hills senior assisted living center. According to SAFTI FIRST, Glass, through a new company he formed called FRG 2000, substituted his own imitation product in place of SuperLite I-XL. 

According to court documents, a stipulated judgment was entered in the amount of $1 million for patent infringement. An injunction was also entered against Glass and his companies acknowledging his product did violate Patent 5,910,620, “and enjoining … this person and these entities, from either alone, or in concert with others, from violating that patent in the future.” 

“The outcome of this suit affirms our position and strengthens our resolve to protect our patents from infringement anytime, anywhere, no matter who infringes [upon them],” said William O’Keeffe, president and CEO of SAFTI FIRST.

When contacted for a comment, Glass issued the following statement from his legal counsel: “The parties agreed to a settlement whereby the defendant paid to the plaintiff the sum of $20,000 and the plaintiff was awarded a stipulated judgment in the amount of $1 million against Allco Millwork Products Inc., a defunct California corporation, and FRG 2000 Inc. a defunct Wyoming corporation. All defendants agreed to permanently refrain from producing the composite glazing product that infringes on the plaintiff’s patent.”

Glass additionally stated, “A settlement is always good, particularly in a patent case in which attorney’s fees would have been substantial.”

O’Keeffe further commented, “Protecting our patent, and letting everyone know that we’ll come after them if they violate it, is what this suit was all about.” 

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