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  1. Is anyone familiar with these companies and the type insurance inspections they do. A friend asked me about this and I told him I would ask around. -National Insurance Inspection Services -Seer Insurance Inspections -Enservio Thanks in advance for any information.
  2. To all, I've been quite busy and would like to update everyone on what is going on with the patent issues regarding infrared. There are developments on a number of fronts. As noted in this thread, the house has passed a bill and now the senate is working on a similar bill which will eventually be reconciled and passed. This is one of the few bills in congress that is receiving bipartisan support. I'm not sure if anyone noticed but POTUS mentioned the Patent Troll issue in the State of the Union Address. Everything appears to be aligned and as soon as the bill is passed, it appears to have pre approval from the White House. One of the key provisions will be fee shifting. A plaintiff will first be required to submit a bond assuring payment of the defendants legal costs if they lose the action. Another key provision is the requirement for greater due diligence on the plaintiff's part. The plaintiff will have a greater responsibility to show evidence of infringement. In HomeSafe's case they filed demand letters based on the fact that an inspector offers IR on their website. This won't be acceptable under the likely provisions of the final bill. In any case, ASHI's lobbyist is on the job working with a large coalition to move this through the legislative process. At the state level there is also a great deal of activity. In December 43 State Attorney's Generals submitted a letter to the Secretary of the Federal Trade Commission voicing strong support for the Secretary's proposed investigations on patent trolls. It is my understanding that FTC investigations are underway. Since I work in North Alabama, I am a stones throw away from Oxford, MS, HomeSafe's resident location. Anticipating possible action from HomeSafe, I have been working with local authorities to strengthen state law as it pertains to the aggressive claims of Patent trolls. State Senators from my area have pushed through legislation giving the attorney general the authority to investigate and prosecute patent trolls who may attack Alabama business. The law was patterned after the Vermont law on the subject. A few weaknesses have been identified in the original Vermont law that were corrected in the Alabama bill. The attorney general has asked any business that are attacked by patent trolls to contact his office. I've attached a letter from his office. In addition, ASHI has provided start up funds for an independent Not for Profit Corporation, IR FREEDOM, Inc. The business operations are being established and I am the President of the organization. We are currently completing our business plan and have corporate donors making pledges of support. We will also have a website up soon and will be soliciting donations from individuals and companies who want to defend free markets in the infrared sector. I do hope all of you will support this effort. Finally, here is a link to a news story on the subject from a North Alabama CBS station. http://whnt.com/2014/02/03/patent-troll ... stigation/ Just to drive home the point, Patent Trolls are a real problem across all sectors of the economy. Cutting deals with them is not the way to resolve the problem. By working through the legislative system, the law enforcement agencies and by joining together, we can permanently put this problem to rest for the infrared community. Please join me as we fight for IR FREEDOM! Download Attachment: Alabama Attorney General PR.pdf 147.73 KB
  3. I bought one in Atlanta at IW a few years ago. I use it on the dozen or so roofs I can't access per year. I have the spotter wireless camera and a HD video camera. With a little practice you can get pretty good at getting detailed video of the roof. It is also flexible enough to bend around behind chimneys. They advertise the weight at 10#. Sounds like it would be easy to handle but when you have it fully extended, it can be a handful, especially if the wind is blowing. You will definitely build up some arm strength using it.
  4. Michael, At ASHI we are encouraged that the bill has come together so quickly. ASHI is a member of the industry lobbying group, Coalition for Patent Fairness, and our lobbyist in DC, Randy Pence has been promoting and tracking the progress of the bill. ASHI Executive Director Frank Lesh was in DC with Randy when the bill was filed. We are very encouraged by the rapid movement so far on the issue in DC however there are no guarantees when it comes to Washington. We will be sending out a legislative alert and a call to action for all inspectors and thermographers to call and write their elected representatives expressing support for this legislation. You shouldn't underestimate the impact these contacts from constituents can have on the decision making process. We are leaving nothing to chance and are continuing to build an industry wide coalition and are in the process of obtaining verbal commitments of support from industry leaders. While the bill would make it more difficult for the patent trolls and their minions to use their patents against us if passed, we aren't going to stop until the threat is eliminated. We will be making more announcements on our progress in the near future.
  5. With regard to your first question, I took actions to accomplish three goals: The first was to have the lawsuit against the inspector withdrawn. I achieved that goal just in time on the morning the inspector's response was due to be filed. I believe I had 6 hours left before he could potentially have lost by default. The next concern was to protect my members from immediate subsequent lawsuits and legal threats. I was able to achieve that goal, at least for now. The last goal was to provide a safe haven for all inspectors, not just InterNACHI members. When Bill Louden first called me about this issue (he called me last month, I didn't call him), I promised him and Frank Lesh that I wouldn't leave ASHI members out on a limb and that I would try to find a way to provide this safe haven for ASHI members who use IR cameras as well as InterNACHI members. I kept my promise. In reviewing Mr. Gromicko's post above I find one accurate statement. That being that I called him. From that point on the narrative is a flight of fantasy and the record needs to be corrected. First lets make it clear that Mr. Russell, the threatened inspector, was not an ASHI member but we at ASHI wanted to help. As a courtesy, we called Mr. Gromicko to determine if he had a plan that we could work with. In the course of the discussion he made references to such odd possibilities as writing his own standard and using that as a legal defense. He also believed that everyone should avoid reading the HomeSafe patents. Mr. Gromicko indicated that on advice of his counsel, he had not read the patents. This was, in his mind, some kind of magic shield that would protect him and his members from legal action. Over the past five years I have consulted with patent attorneys in New York, Washington DC, Detroit and Huntsville, it was clear to me that Mr. Gromicko was grasping for a solution and had little in the way of a viable plan that ASHI could work with. I did tell him we were reactivating our task force on the issue and were willing to work with INACHI members who were willing to join an industry coalition to have these patents overturned. At the end of our conversation Mr. Gromicko asked for a "gentleman's agreement" between himself and ASHI that neither party take any action without first consulting the other. We agreed and ASHI held to that agreement. You can image our surprise that Mr. Gromicko broke his word and unilaterally made his deal with HomeSafe. As far as this supposed 6 hour deadline Mr. Gromicko says he had to save Mr. Russell, I spoke to Mr. Russell on the day before the date he was required to respond and he said his attorneys had developed a response and strategy and were ready to move ahead. The deadline was merely to respond, basically they had to enter a plea, guilty or not of patent infringement. Once a plea was entered that Mr. Russell had not violated the patents, there would have been months of back and forth and eventually a trial date would be set, probably sometime late next year. Plenty of time to build the coalition we are working on now. At ASHI we are very committed to resolve this matter in a moral and responsible manner. We have already joined with a Washington DC lobbying group, Coalition for Patent Fairness, and will be incorporating our on industry coalition, (with the ASHI board approval next week) within the next few weeks. We have already received promises of industry support and will be asking all thermographers to step up and contribute to our coalition to raise the tens of thousands of dollars it will take to protect the industry of these patent trolls. I invite all home inspectors and thermographers to stand with us.
  6. Safe havens can turn into prisons. They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety." Ben Franklin
  7. Great research Scott. We will definitely be using this as we go forward.
  8. To All, I am very familiar with this issue and with HomeSafe. They have been sending out letters to home inspectors and energy auditors threatening legal action for patent infringement since about 2009 or 2010. When I found out about this in 2010 I informed the ASHI Board of Directors of these threats. They took the threat seriously and appointed me to lead a task force to investigate the issue. We consulted four patent attorneys to evaluate the validity of their claims and the consensus among patent experts was that given the overwhelming evidence of "prior art" in this field, and the specific nature of their patented process, any litigation could be defeated. However the costs to litigate this could be expected to run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then a separate suit, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, would be required to invalidate their patents. We then attempted to build an industry coalition to defend inspectors of this threat but since no inspector had at that time actually been sued, the companies involved in IR sales and training backed out of providing funding for an inspector defense fund. At ASHI we have been watching the situation since late 2011 and for over a year there were no threat letters going out. I was hopeful that the problem was going to evaporate. However this represents a dramatic change of events. Since finding out about this yesterday I have been in contact with the board and we are reformulating our task force and are again going to work to protect the profession from this threat to the thousands of inspectors who currently use infrared technology as a part of their inspections and we hope that the rest of the industry will join us. Though Mr. Russell is not a member of ASHI, we intend to assist in obtaining funding needed to protect his business and his family. Please consider that if you now use infrared technology or ever expect to in the future, you have a stake in this. HomeSafe claims that if you turn on an infrared camera in a house, you are in violation of their patents. A win on their home court in Oxford, Mississippi would give them a powerful precedence to start filing suits across the country. Bill Loden ASHI President Elect
  9. Cool project Darren. I used to be a commercial PM and loved my time on site. I have one question from looking the footing forms; In NJ does the mob place bodies in all footing or just select footings? Are there special code provisons for that kind of thing?
  10. I did the same thing working on a muddy location at a natural gas well in Oklahoma. All that stress of trying to lift each boot free of the suction of the mud caused a lower back spasm. I was laid up for almost a week.
  11. It appears the photo was taken on the weekend so the selection is not great; but there are a couple of cars in the parking lot...
  12. A friend at Kennedy Space Center sent me the attached picture. The building in the path of the sidewalk where the big fella is heading is the cafeteria. Click to Enlarge 58.45 KB
  13. I've heard Walter play and he is a serious player. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFQZSbpFdqA
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