Frequently Asked Questions
ICC’s Lawsuit Against IAPMO
Why is ICC-ES suing IAPMO?
Over the past several years, IAPMO has been issuing evaluation reports and acceptance criteria, claiming them as its own, even though they copied extensively and without permission from ICC-ES reports and criteria. We asked IAPMO repeatedly to address this problem, but its unauthorized reproduction of our materials only intensified. We made significant efforts during the last few months of 2015 to resolve the matter amicably and informally with IAPMO, without success. On January 13, 2016 we reluctantly filed a lawsuit against IAPMO as our only remaining course of action to protect ICC’s interests.
What specifically is IAPMO doing that ICC finds objectionable?
IAPMO copied extensively and repeatedly from ICC-ES reports, as shown in these examples.
IAPMO has publicly stated that it agreed to revise some of the offending reports, which we believe was a clear acknowledgement by IAPMO that it had improperly copied our materials. However, as shown in this example, some of the revised versions continue to make substantial unauthorized use of ICC-ES material, and attempt to get around the unauthorized copying by simply placing quotations around the ICC-ES language. Over our objections, IAPMO declared it is unwilling to make additional changes to these reports.
Should manufacturers, code officials and construction industry executives be concerned about the unauthorized copying of these reports?
Anyone who is committed to building safety should be concerned about a standards organization that tries to pass off the work of others as its own. ICC-ES reports and materials reflect a rigorous engineering evaluation process. We have heard from manufacturers who are worried about the pattern of copying that we allege in the lawsuit.
What is the goal of the lawsuit?
We want IAPMO to stop copying our materials and passing them off as its own and to remove the existing offending materials from circulation. We also want effective mechanisms put in place that will ensure that the unauthorized copying of our materials does not persist.
We are asking the court to issue an injunction to compel IAPMO to stop its unauthorized copying of our materials, and to discontinue promotion and distribution of IAPMO’ s imitative products.
Contrary to IAPMO’s recent public assertions, the purpose of the lawsuit is not to “chill competition in the marketplace.” ICC embraces competition and has worked with an array of Standards Developing and Conformity Assessment Organizations in the marketplace to help assure safety in the built environment. Competition makes all of us better, and forces us to constantly strive to produce the highest quality technical analysis – which in turn makes for better products and safer buildings. What ICC does not condone is unauthorized copying of its materials by IAPMO.
IAPMO states it amended its process for creating reports, and reissued some reports – why did ICC still sue?
IAPMO stated in its public response to ICC’s lawsuit that it amended its process for creating evaluation reports, and has re-written some of the offending reports. We believe this is clear acknowledgement by IAPMO that it engaged in a pattern of unauthorized copying of our materials. The revised versions of several evaluation reports continue to make substantial unauthorized use of ICC-ES material, and IAPMO attempts to justify its copying by simply placing quotations around the ICC-ES language, as shown in this example. If we had accepted this disingenuous approach, it would have set a precedent enabling IAPMO to dramatically expand its improper copying practices with impunity for all of our proprietary material.
What type of implications does this lawsuit have for the broader Standards Developing and Conformity Assessment Community?
The public’s confidence in all Standards Developing and Conformity Assessment Organizations rests on our collective commitment to upholding the highest standards of integrity and transparency to promote the construction of safe and resilient structures. IAPMO’s repeated practice of passing off the work of others as its own is deeply troubling and raises serious questions about its commitment to those values.
What public statements has ICC made about the lawsuit?
On January 13, 2016, Chief Executive Dominic Sims and Board President Alex Olszowy sent an email to the ICC membership outlining the background of the lawsuit. ICC also issued a press release on the same day.
IAPMO claims that this lawsuit is simply a tactic by ICC-ES to maintain “its virtual monopoly” on construction product evaluation. Is that true?
No. The market for construction product evaluation services is robustly competitive. IAPMO’s allegations are an unwarranted attempt to deflect attention from its own improper practice of copying from our evaluation reports and acceptance criteria and passing them off as their own. We have taken this action against IAPMO solely to protect our intellectual property.
Where do things stand now?
On April 27, 2022, United States Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui issued a report recommending that the United States District Court for the District of Columbia find that IAPMO infringed the copyrights for 26 ICC-ES evaluation reports and acceptance criteria. The magistrate judge overwhelmingly agreed with ICC-ES’s arguments, finding, among other things, that: (1) ICC-ES owns valid and protectable copyrights in the evaluation reports and acceptance criteria, (2) IAPMO infringed ICC-ES’s copyrighted works through reproduction and distribution of the copyrighted works on IAPMO’s internal systems, and (3) ICC-ES is entitled to a permanent injunction prohibiting IAPMO and their employees and agents from any infringement of ICC-ES’s current and future copyrighted works. The magistrate judge’s report is an important development in ICC-ES’s litigation against IAPMO, but it is not a final decision and will be reviewed by the District Court Judge who will issue a separate decision.