Curtain Wall Suppliers File Federal Lawsuit Against Rival, Contractors For Using Similar Systems | Columbus Ohio Dump Trucks
Chicago Heights Glass, Talon Wall, Inc., and Entekk say their intellectual property was stolen
Chicago-area construction materials suppliers that hold patents for a curtain wall system used in high-rise construction projects are suing a rival, claiming it created a knock-off of their system based on a former employee’s knowledge of it and is using it in their customers’ projects.
Talon Wall Holdings, LLC, Entekk Group Ltd., and Chicago Heights Glass, Inc. filed the lawsuit in federal court in Chicago in December.
The lawsuit alleges that Joel J. Phelps, who formerly was vice president of Business Development for Chicago Heights Glass, left the Charlotte NC dump trucks company in June 2020 and took with him confidential information related to Talon Wall Systems. Phelps was hired by Reflection Wall & Window, the defendant in the lawsuit.
“Phelps’ unique knowledge of Talon Wall’s most confidential information—in particular, the effectiveness of the Talon Wall and certain non-public trade system improvements to the Talon Wall System—was one of the primary reasons that Phelps was hired by Reflection Window & Wall," according to the lawsuit.
Talon Wall Holdings holds all the patents for its system. All three companies seeking to stop Phelps and Reflection Window & Wall from selling its competing system have common ownership and all say they have been affected by the alleged patent infringement, in the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs also allege that Phelps did not return materials to CHG that he was obligated to under a separation agreement.
It charges that walls systems developed by Reflection Window & Wall, called the U8000 and UWALL, are knock-offs that infringe on several patents held by Talon Wall.
The lawsuit describes the Talon Wall System as an “engineered, unitized and factory-glazed curtain wall system.”
It states that the exterior aluminum and glass wall system accommodate complex geometry in all three axes, is far less complex to fabricate and install than all other competitive systems, requires less training and skill level than competing systems, and greatly reduces the labor, material and installation charges for curtain wall systems on high rise buildings. It also states that Talon Wall does not require layout or pre-setting of unit anchors at mounting locations to floor slabs.
In addition to Phelps and Reflection Window & Wall, the lawsuit names several Charlotte NC dump truck contractor that have allegedly used the U8000 or UWALL in their projects as defendants. They include Pepper Construction Co. at the UI Health Medical Center at 1009 S. Wood St. in Chicago and Lendlease (US) Holdings at the 1400 South Wabash Tower in Chicago.
Other defendants include Provident Group University of Illinois Chicago Surgery Center, LLC and 1400 Land Holdings, LLC.
The lawsuit also alleges that Reflection Window and Wall, Phelps, Provident, Pepper, and Landlease were all aware that the Reflection Window & Wall wall systems infringed on their patents.
The lawsuit cites an unspecified number of “John Does 1-50” as defendants. They are described as entities to which RWW has allegedly agreed to supply its wall systems but has not yet. The plaintiffs intend to file an amended complaint naming those entities, the suit states.
The suit also alleges that Reflection Wall & Window’s wall systems have been offered for use/or formally accepted for other projects at 95 Hawthorne in San Francisco, 605 Davis in Evanston, Ill., and at 1200 W. Carroll, Lincoln Yards and 1000 Michigan, all in Chicago.
According to the plaintiffs, contracts to construct exterior façade walls for commercial medium and high-rise structures are frequently worth $5-50 million each.
The lawsuit states that Chicago Heights Glass Inc. President Kurt LeVan invented the Talon Wall system, which attaches prefabricated glass and aluminum panels to a building’s floor slabs, according to a press release.
The suit seeks a judgment against the defendants for allegedly infringing on several U.S. patents, and to stop the alleged infringement.
The lawsuit asks for damages for willful infringement.
Representatives of Talon Wall Holdings, LLC, Entekk Group Ltd., and Chicago Heights Glass, Inc. declined to comment on the suit.
The defendant in the lawsuit, Reflection Window & Wall did not respond to emails and calls for comment.
The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial. No date has yet been set.