ICC vs. NFPA Lawsuit Continues; Motion for Summary Judgment Denied

The copyright infringement lawsuit filed by the International Code Council (ICC) in 2002 against the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) will continue, at least for now.
In August 2002, the ICC filed suit against the NFPA, alleging that the model code NFPA 5000 contained 300 sections and 20 tables copied from the ICC building model code IBC 2000.

In February, the NFPA filed a motion for summary judgment, which is used to try to show that the arguments in the case are not valid, and had it been granted, it would have effectively ended the case. However, the Honorable Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, who is overseeing the case, denied the motion.

The NFPA made three main arguments in its motion: 1. that the sections and tables they are accused of copying are ideas, not expressions, and cannot be copyrighted; 2. that the ICC didn't own the language they claim is copied but that rather the people who wrote the document did; and 3. that the NFPA did not copy the language the ICC is alleging it did.
Judge Pallmeyer found that the NFPA failed to prove its cases in both the question of ownership and argument that the sections in question were ideas that could not be copyrighted. Additionally, it was decided that the question of whether or not the NFPA copied the material was also disputable.

The case was set for a status hearing in April, at which time a jury trial was scheduled for October 20, 2006. Deadlines for pretrial orders were set, though if the ICC and NFPA agree to it, they still have the option of settling the matter before that time.


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