Chicago Heights Glass Sues Reflection Window & Wall for Patent Infringement of Talon Wall® System
Jan 24, 2022
Chicago Heights Glass, Inc., a longstanding leader in commercial high-rise façade construction in the Chicago metropolitan area, and related entities recently filed a multi-count, federal patent infringement lawsuit against former employee Joel J. Phelps and Reflection Window & Wall, LLC (RWW), and others. The plaintiffs, including Chicago Heights Glass, Inc., Talon Wall Holdings, LLC, and Entekk Group Ltd., patented a revolutionary exterior aluminum and glass wall construction system for commercial buildings, known as Talon Wall®, which greatly reduces the labor, material, and installation costs for curtain wall systems on high-rise buildings. They are marketing and installing it nationwide. The Talon Wall system is stronger, less expensive, and easier to install than traditional façade systems. According to the lawsuit, Phelps and RWW have created and have installed a knock-off building façade called “Uwall or “U-8000” that incorporates the patented Talon Wall system. The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants knowingly violated the Talon Wall patents.
Contracts to construct exterior façade walls for commercial medium and high-rise structures are frequently worth $5-50 million. The lawsuit seeks damages and asks the court to enjoin the defendants from using the patented Talon Wall System. According to the lawsuit, additional contracts to use the knock-off system have been proposed by the defendants for planned high-rise buildings in Chicago and elsewhere.
For many years, high-rise buildings have been enclosed in aluminum and glass facades using systems developed decades ago. Chicago Heights Glass Inc. President Kurt LeVan invented the Talon Wall system, which differs significantly from traditional methods by attaching prefabricated glass and aluminum panels to the building floor slabs in a unique fashion. Installing prefabricated aluminum and glass panels this way makes them stronger, easier to fabricate, and easier to install by much smaller work crews. The Talon Wall system is therefore superior to and dramatically less expensive than traditional methods, and the Talon Wall system has become the preferred standard for many high-rise construction projects.
The lawsuit alleges that former Chicago Heights employee Phelps left the company abruptly in June of 2020. According to the lawsuit, he had substantial knowledge regarding the technical details, advantages, and market opportunities for the Talon Wall system. The lawsuit also states that Phelps was obligated to return certain materials to Chicago Heights but failed to do so. The lawsuit adds that armed with the confidential information about the Talon Wall system, Phelps was promptly hired by RWW, a direct competitor.
The lawsuit further alleges that: “With full awareness that the Talon Wall System was a patented and superior product to anything being offered by RWW, Phelps both individually and in his capacity as an executive officer of RWW, along with RWW, created knock-off systems.”
The lawsuit also names as defendants several construction companies and building owners, including: Pepper Construction Co., Provident Group UIC Surgery Center, LLC, LendLease (US) Construction Inc., 1400 Land Holdings, LLC, and others. According to the complaint, the UI Outpatient Surgery Center located at 1009 South Wood Street in Chicago was built with the knock-off system, and a new building at 1400 South Wabash is under contract to use the patent-infringing system.
LeVan devised and developed the Talon Wall System over a period of years and went through the rigorous U.S. patent process. The company will continue to vigorously defend its intellectual property against such violations, including against contractors and building owners that use it.
Chicago Heights Glass, Inc. is a privately owned specialty manufacturer and subcontracting firm located in the southern Chicago suburbs that specializes in commercial construction projects. More information on the company is available at www.chicagoheightsglass.com. The lawsuit can be downloaded here and at www.LawsuitPressRelease.com.
John P. David
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