Dear HBA Members: Within the last week, some of you may have received a letter from a company called Savannah IP with regard to their U.S. patent of a particular moisture removal/dryout process. Based on the letters provided to us, the letter asserts Savannah’s claim that it believes that your new construction frame drying processes infringe on one or more of Savannah’s patents related to frame drying. It also claims that Savannah has successfully asserted its patents in court. This issue initially came to our attention about seven years ago. At that time, we connected with our national association (NAHB) to engage them (since it involved a federal patent issue and potentially had implications beyond our State). We also worked with our state association (OHBA) to pass legislation (SB 1540, promulgated as ORS 646A.810) that is aimed at preventing generic patent infringement claims, or so-called “patent trolling”, meaning an assertion or claim of patent infringement brought without knowing whether the recipient has actually violated the patent in question. We want to share some thoughts on what you might do in response to one of these letters should you receive one. First, however, we must caution that we cannot and are not giving you legal advice. Rather, we urge you to review the situation and this email with your own attorneys prior to taking any action, including ignoring such a letter. With that caveat in mind, what follows is general information you should consider in responding to Savannah IP’s letter and claim: Rather than either ignoring the letter or signing a license agreement without further inquiry (both of which might create additional problems for you), you or your attorney might think about writing a letter in response to Savannah IP that says: 1. You respect intellectual property rights; but 2. You would like to know what exactly it is that Savannah IP believes is subject to patent protection and why it believes the processes allegedly covered by the patent are so novel and unobvious that they are eligible for patent protection; and 3. You would like to know what exactly it is that Savannah IP believes you are doing that is infringing on the patent. Such a letter can also include a so-called “investigatory demand” pursuant to ORS 646.618. A second note is that when Savannah IP claims it successfully asserted its patents in court, our review of the federal case it referenced shows that the case was settled before it was ever adjudicated. So “successfully asserted” appears to be a vague reference to the settlement, even though it could imply Savannah achieved an actual court decision. Click here to view a document our national association provided back in 2015 when we were working through this issue that contains some additional help on what you might want to consider or review with your own legal counsel in determining whether or how to respond. Again, all of the above is not legal advice but something for you and your attorney to consider. In addition, here are a couple of other areas HBA is working to be helpful on this issue. First, we intend to see if we can have the appropriate Department at the State of Oregon review these letters to determine whether the wording and claims therein violate SB1540. Of particular concern is the generic claim they assert that Savannah IP believes the recipient has violated their patent without any specific references to what they are basing this belief on. We have already reached out to our state association to get their help with this. Second, we will be connecting with the legal team at our national association again on this issue to see what help they might be able to provide at a federal level. We understand the impact this kind of patent claim can have on our industry. We also understand that this is one of the critical reasons companies like yours belong to their industry association – to get help on issues such as this and to know you are not fighting it alone. This affects all builders in our region, so if you know of someone who received a similar letter who is not a member, you might encourage them to join the HBA. It is our collective resources that give us the strength to work on issues such as this and otherwise advocate for our industry. If you have any questions on this issue, contact HBA CEO Dave Nielsen at email@example.com.