The International Code Council and the National Fire Protection Association announced in August that the two groups have settled several disputes relating to copyright and trademark issues.

The cases, one brought by ICC and two brought by NFPA, involved copyright and trademark issues. Neither party admitted any liability or wrongdoing in any of the cases.

The settlement protects NFPA's right to continue to publish and distribute its NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code and resolves issues related to NFPA and ICC's trademarks.

In 2002, ICC sued NFPA in Chicago federal court charging that NFPA infringed the copyright in ICC's International Building Code. Under the terms of the settlement, ICC has withdrawn the lawsuit "with prejudice," meaning ICC's copyright infringement charges against NFPA have been given up. The terms of the settlement limit in various ways ICC's ability to sue NFPA with new allegations of copyright infringement.

ICC Chief Operating Officer Rick Weiland noted that the settlement agreement includes provisions designed to reduce future lawsuits between the two organizations.

In separate litigation filed in Massachusetts federal court in 2003, NFPA brought a suit against ICC for trademark infringement and for violation of a 1999 settlement agreement. That case involved ICC's use of NFPA's International Electrical Code trademark as well as other similar trademarks. In the settlement, ICC has agreed to discontinue using the challenged trademarks.

A third dispute in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office involving the use of the phrase "Certified Building Official" has been resolved in a manner that will allow NFPA to register its certification marks, "NFPA-Certified Building Official" and "NFPA-CBO."

"We were confident we would win the cases, but at tremendous expense into the millions of dollars," Weiland said. "We want to invest our resources in public safety and in the thousands of communities across the country that use our family of International Codes."

As part of the settlement of these disputes, ICC has agreed to pay NFPA an undisclosed amount of money for legal fees and costs associated with the litigations.

"The time had come to put all these disputes behind us," Weiland said. "We would rather focus on serving our members and the public than continue to spend a lot of time and money on lawsuits."