Huber Engineered Woods (HEW) announced today it has filed a lawsuit against Georgia-Pacific Wood Products (GP) alleging that GP's ForcefField Air and Water Barrier System infringes Huber's patents for its ZIP System sheathing and tape products--and that the infringement was made possible in part because GP hired a former Huber official.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Huber is based in Charlotte, N.C.
"Our brands have won multiple national awards and received numerous accolades and recognition in the industry, and we will vigorously defend our patents against infringement," Huber President Brian Carlson said in a press release.
Huber announced its action early this morning. Late this afternoon, GP issued this statement:
Georgia-Pacific Wood Products is aware of the lawsuit filed by Huber Engineered Woods related to GP's recently-launched ForceField Air and Water Barrier System. As a company that respects intellectual property, GP remains confident that ForceField does not violate the IP rights of others, including those of Huber. GP disagrees with Huber's allegations, and intends to vigorously defend itself in this matter.
According to Huber's initial complaint, filed June 17, GP's ForceField not only uses technology claimed in two Huber patents. It also alleges that GP was able to develop ForceField because it hired a former Huber employee, Richard Jordan, who had previously signed agreements with Huber promising to not disclose or publish any of Huber's confidential information.
"Despite the Confidentiality Agreement, Mr. Jordan is a named inventor on GP’s currently pending patent application," Huber's complaint says. "That application relates to the same subject matter as, and contains information remarkably similar to, [Huber's ZIP System patents]. ... [W]hen hiring Mr. Jordan, GP knew Mr. Jordan was formerly employed by HEW and that he worked on confidential technology related to engineered wood products with an integrated barrier layer."
GP, Huber alleges, "hired Mr. Jordan with the goal of using and disclosing the confidential information and knowledge Mr. Jordan gained while at HEW, including information about the manufacturing of engineered wood products with an integrated barrier system. And, upon information and belief, GP sought to develop and market a competing product by using that confidential HEW information."
Huber's ZIP system (shown at right) is described on its website as "an innovative structural roof and wall system with an integrated water resistant and air barrier that streamlines the weatherization process and transforms it with a simple two-step installation."
GP describes the Forcefield system on its website as consisting of "structural engineered wood sheathing panels laminated with a proprietary air and water barrier. Once the panels are installed on a structure and the panel seams are taped with ForceField seam tape, it creates a code-compliant integrated system that eliminates the need for house wrap."