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Locked in battle

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Kwikset Corp. has upped the ante in its legal battle against Schlage Lock Co. by adding false-advertising claims to its already existing patent infringement lawsuit.

At issue are the re-keyable door locks that both manufacturers make. Consumers can easily reprogram their locks to give guests or contractors temporary access. Kwikset introduced its SmartKey product in April 2007. Schlage unveiled its SecureKey product at the International Builders’ Show in January 2010.

Trouble soon followed.

Kwikset filed a patent infringement lawsuit on Jan. 27 in the U.S. District Court in Delaware, alleging that Schlage copied two of its design features. But now Kwikset has amended its complaint to include “false and misleading claims” about its rival’s products. Schlage is advertising SecureKey as “10 times more secure” than other lock products, a statement Kwikset strongly disagrees with. The Lake Forest, Calif., company, owned by Black & Decker, is seeking an injunction against Schlage for further acts of false advertising, as well as monetary damages.

In response to the allegations, John Evans, VP marketing and product management for the residential solutions sector of Ingersoll Rand, the parent company of Schlage, stated: “Our SecureKey product includes neither of the claimed features covered by the two Kwikset patents, and we are confident that the statements used in the sale and advertisements of our products, in their entirety, are correct.”

So why is Kwikset pursuing this path? To impede competition, Schlage said in a statement, adding: “[Our company] will seek damages from Kwikset for being forced to defend itself against these baseless claims.”

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Slower growth for global plumbing market

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The global demand for plumbing products is expected to decelerate from its heady pace during the 2003-to-2008 period, when spending grew by 7.6% a year, according to a new study by the Freedonia Group. The Cleveland-based market research firm is forecasting a more modest 3.5% annual growth rate through 2013, with the highest increases in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Growth in developed countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan, Western Europe and Australia will be limited by their economic recoveries and a slower pace of building construction, the report said.

The fixtures segment of the world plumbing products market is expected to grow at a faster rate than the fittings segment through 2013. In developed countries, increasing demand for low-consumption fixtures (e.g. motion sensor faucets) and “recreational bathing fixtures” will contribute to demands, according to the study.

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KB Home partners with WaterSense

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Los Angeles-based home builder KB Home, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, has announced it plans to be the first home builder to build new homes to meet the WaterSense specifications.

The WaterSense label is granted to homes that use 20% less water than a conventional new home and save the homeowner more than 10,000 gallons per year, according to the EPA.

KB Home said it already incorporates WaterSense bathroom faucets to its new home designs.

“KB Home is proud to collaborate with the EPA to set a benchmark standard and build consumer awareness of the benefits of water-saving features in new homes,” said Jeffrey Mezger, president and CEO of KB Home. “We believe that much like how the EPA’s Energy Star qualification has raised awareness among consumers regarding energy efficiency, the WaterSense program will heighten consumers’ sensitivity to water consumption. In addition to being earth-friendly, homes built to the EPA’s strict guidelines for energy and water efficiency help to drive down the costs associated with day-to-day living in a home, saving buyers money and natural resources.”

According to KB Home, in order to meet the criteria, home builders must incorporate a number of WaterSense-labeled features, such as shower heads, faucets and toilets, as well as using landscape designs to minimize water usage and installing energy-efficient water heating. Once the home is complete, a third-party rater ensures that the upgrades meet the WaterSense standard.

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