Sunbelt Rentals Inc., a member of the Restoration Industry Association (RIA), has contributed $50,000 in matching funds to the Restoration Industry Legal Fund (RLIF) and is challenging other vendors at the upcoming RIA Industry Summit and Exhibition to contribute.
“Sunbelt Rentals has always been a company that gives back to the communities in which we serve,” said Ken Rothmel, Sunbelt’s director of strategic accounts. “We are alarmed at the number of frivolous patent infringement suits that have been filed against RIA members and others in the industry by Thermapure. Their actions could cause many small and medium-sized restoration contractors to lose their life savings, and even have to close their doors to defend themselves.”
RIA filed suit in Federal Court in the Western District of Washington State against Thermapure and its president, David Hedman, in January to invalidate six of the seven patents held by Thermapure. These patents, and in particular the “812,” have been used by Thermapure to sue RIA members and other restoration industry companies. RIA firmly believes that these suits are without merit, as the family of patents involved asserts claims that have been industry standards for years.
“Sunbelt Rentals cannot sit idly by and not help to defend RIA members. We are members of and an integral part of the restoration industry, and supporting the industry and these efforts are the right thing to do,” explained Rothmel. “We are challenging the other RIA exhibitors at the Leadership Summit to commit what they can to help fund this important cause.”
The 68th Annual RIA Leadership Summit and Industry Expo will take place at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV, April 23-25.
“RIA views these patent lawsuits against its members and other industry companies as an affront to the entire industry and the countless professionals who have spent decades building it,” said RIA President, Samuel Bergman, CR.
RIA is soliciting money from both members and nonmembers to fund this effort, and will make all prior art and case history available to RIA members for their use, should the need arise.
For more information or to contribute to the fund, contact the Restoration Industry Association in Rockville, MD, (800) 272-7012 or visit www.restorationindustry.org.