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  1. #1
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    Default Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Important Notice from ASHI

    Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    For years ASHI has quietly monitored the inspection industry landscape for threats to our profession. Through a grass roots network of members, committees, chapter leaders, the Council of Representatives and the Board of Directors, we effectively survey--and when needed--react to changing conditions. ASHI is also the only association of professional home inspectors with a lobbyist in Washington DC, allowing us to protect the entire profession from regulation that would be adverse to the profession and promote positive policy, thus enhancing the home inspection profession and adding value for our clients.

    Now a threat to our profession has materialized. First recognized by some ASHI members in 2008, the threat has now reached a critical stage and requires all members' attention and consideration. This threat is from a company in Oxford, Mississippi, HomeSafe Home Services, incorporated in 2003. One of the HomeSafe cofounders, while working as a researcher at a university in Oxford, Mississippi, used industry-developed infrared techniques and technology to supplement his acoustic research to locate termite colonies inside the walls of buildings.

    Over the course of several years, the researcher and his associates developed patents on procedures related to the use of infrared camera technology in a residential structure. While much of his work can be shown to be from widely documented procedures developed by others in the 1980s and 1990s, the patents applications were submitted to and approved by the US Patent Office. These patents are now the basis of claims being made against inspectors and thermographers who use infrared camera technology.

    Around 2005 or 2006 HomeSafe began sending letters to home inspectors and energy auditors who use infrared cameras in evaluating homes, threatening legal action for patent infringement. HomeSafe claims, "It is impossible to perform a complete and accurate inspection or even a partial inspection with an infrared camera without utilizing HomeSafe's patented methods and infringing."

    Additionally they allege, "If you are using an infrared camera to detect anomalies in a home related to indoor air quality, energy loss, moisture intrusion and electrical hazards among others, you are violating HomeSafe's patents."

    ASHI established a task force in 2011 to assess these threats. The task force consulted a number of expert patent attorneys from around the country and also worked to assemble a coalition of industry stakeholders to determine the veracity of HomeSafe's claims. As the task force continued its work, the threat from HomeSafe appeared to diminish and over the past year ASHI has been monitoring the situation.

    On August 7, 2013 HomeSafe filed its first lawsuit in the Northern District of Mississippi for patent infringement against a home inspector in Tupelo, Mississippi. ASHI learned of this action on August 19 and immediately began taking steps to reactive the work of the task force and make contact with industry stakeholders. Our intention was to assist this inspector who is a member of another inspection association to ensure he had the information and resources he needed to protect his assets.

    In the meantime, the owner of the defendant's home inspection association stepped in, before the court date for the defendant response on August 28, and offered to pay HomeSafe a cash settlement to drop the suit. While it might have been intended as a generous gesture, this offer and acceptance of cash provides HomeSafe a quick win and additional funds to file more legal action. This ill-advised payment to HomeSafe will further embolden them to pursue their legal strategy. In the end, while certainly a godsend for the inspector involved, this can mean more threats and more suits by HomeSafe against home inspectors.

    Be aware that there are also some in the home inspection industry beginning to report they have a "magic bullet" or "shield" against HomeSafe's threats. They lead their members to believe that if a thermographer adopts their "procedure," they will be protected. Before you accept this, you should consult with a patent attorney. You are likely to discover that while the tactics suggested might be marginally helpful if you have to defend yourself in court, those tactics are in no way likely to deter or prohibit HomeSafe from engaging you in a civil action in US Federal Court.

    ASHI is taking positive steps to assist its members who use thermal imaging as a part of their business. ASHI's actions will also benefit any residential thermographer, regardless of association or industry affiliation. An ASHI 2011 member survey indicates that today there are close to 2,000 ASHI members using thermal imaging in their business, and there are many thousands more across the thermal imaging community.

    ASHI will engage all thermographers and the thermal imaging support industry to join our coalition and develop a unified strategy to protect the interest of our members. This will require industry-wide cooperation. In the days ahead, ASHI will issue a Call to Action to let each of you know how you can show your support for our efforts to protect not just our members but the industry as a whole.

    Finally, please consider what happens if the industry ignores this issue. Predicting the future is never easy, but we can be sure of one thing: HomeSafe will not quietly give up their fight to control the residential infrared market. They have proven they are committed to achieve their objectives with ten years of effort. Do you want to face them alone or do you want to stand with thousands of inspectors and thermographers across the country and meet this challenge head on?

    ASHI will provide additional updates as this situation unfolds.

    NHIE Practice Exam
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    It is rumored that Nick G. made a one time payment for the rights for NACHI members to use the patents. It also appears that he signed a confidentiality agreement with HomeSafe.


  3. #3
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    It needs a court date to be resolved. They did not engineer, develop and or build thermal imaging cameras and the caneras were in fact designed to be used for exactly what Home Safe supposedly has legal rights and patents to use them for. It will never win in a law suit.

    Anyone that picks up a thermal imifing camera and points it at a receptacle and finds excessive heat and states so in a report.......is breaking the law and can be sued by Home Safe????? NOt a snowball chance in hell. The lawsuit will back fire on them and they will be paying a small fortune in a counter suit.

    Of course this is just my opinion and should not be counted on. Or should it????

    Roof leaks, shower pan leaks, heated equipment in an industrial application, please! I think the manufacturers will be the ones involved in the counter suit. Camera sales will disappear across the country with only one entity in the US purchasing them? I really don't think home safe has a chance of survival. Someone want to give me some financial backing and I will test it out for the industry.


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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    While I agree with Ted in theory, it is a scary thought. Read this:
    HomeSafe Inspection - Patent Information From The Most Trusted Home Inspectors in Atlanta, Georgia (GA)!

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    Steven,

    Thanks for the ( propaganda ) link .

    Mr Lee has very wild and broad claims on his Web Advertising " Patented Methods".
    * I suspect the actuality patent is much more limited to the use of His Software,Equipment coupled with His technique.

    Keeping the fact in mind according to his web site these were developed by Mr. Lee and his NCPA collages while working on a US Department of Agriculture project.

    How do you patient US Government funded work done at a State University?

    ** anyone can sue you for any reason they makeup.

    Last edited by Billy Stephens; 09-02-2013 at 09:09 AM. Reason: added **
    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  7. #7
    Bill Loden's Avatar
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Steven,

    Thanks for the ( propaganda ) link .

    Mr Lee has very wild and broad claims on his Web Advertising " Patented Methods".
    * I suspect the actuality patent is much more limited to the use of His Software,Equipment coupled with His technique.

    Keeping the fact in mind according to his web site these were developed by Mr. Lee and his NCPA collages while working on a US Department of Agriculture project.

    How do you patient US Government funded work done at a State University?

    ** anyone can sue you for any reason they makeup.
    I would caution everyone to take this threat serious. These folks have been working this business model for ten years, they are well funded and they are not likely to give up. I've been watching this since 2008. Hundreds of inspectors and energy auditors have been threatened with legal action and this latest suit is an escalation in their gambit to take over the residential IR market. Since the owner of an inspection association paid them a settlement, to withdraw their suit against one of his members, they now have new incentive to continue pressing this issue. The entire Residential IR market needs to come together to deal with this. ASHI is trying to bring everyone together but it will be a costly endeavor. EVERYONE will need to chip in. These types of patent trolls who attack small businesses are epidemic in the computer field. This is the only situation of this type I've seen in our industry. You can be picked off one at a time or we can band together to end this. BTW. I've been trying to break this into paragraphs and the function doesn't seem to work. Maybe I have the wrong type browser.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Loden View Post
    I would caution everyone to take this threat serious. These folks have been working this business model for ten years, they are well funded and they are not likely to give up. I've been watching this since 2008. Hundreds of inspectors and energy auditors have been threatened with legal action and this latest suit is an escalation in their gambit to take over the residential IR market. Since the owner of an inspection association paid them a settlement, to withdraw their suit against one of his members, they now have new incentive to continue pressing this issue. The entire Residential IR market needs to come together to deal with this. ASHI is trying to bring everyone together but it will be a costly endeavor. EVERYONE will need to chip in. These types of patent trolls who attack small businesses are epidemic in the computer field. This is the only situation of this type I've seen in our industry. You can be picked off one at a time or we can band together to end this. BTW. I've been trying to break this into paragraphs and the function doesn't seem to work. Maybe I have the wrong type browser.
    Thanks for the input Bill.

    As I don't have a dog in this Fight just an opinion.

    Best,

    Billy

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    I'm a little surprised that Flir hasn't stepped in to help out, or maybe they have and I just am not aware of it. They certainly have a very large do in this fight.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  10. #10
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Loden View Post
    I would caution everyone to take this threat serious. These folks have been working this business model for ten years, they are well funded and they are not likely to give up. I've been watching this since 2008. Hundreds of inspectors and energy auditors have been threatened with legal action and this latest suit is an escalation in their gambit to take over the residential IR market. Since the owner of an inspection association paid them a settlement, to withdraw their suit against one of his members, they now have new incentive to continue pressing this issue. The entire Residential IR market needs to come together to deal with this. ASHI is trying to bring everyone together but it will be a costly endeavor. EVERYONE will need to chip in. These types of patent trolls who attack small businesses are epidemic in the computer field. This is the only situation of this type I've seen in our industry. You can be picked off one at a time or we can band together to end this. BTW. I've been trying to break this into paragraphs and the function doesn't seem to work. Maybe I have the wrong type browser.
    I have not read anywhere no matter how deep I search where they won any case from any home inspection company. Taken seriously. It is your business. They did not engineer and or manufacturer all the other manufacturers Thermal imaging cameras and guess what. They were built for, wait, hold for it......Inspectors. To inspect...what exactly. Every thing they inspect. They also know that if they go to court they will lose. Why do you think they have not taken anyone to court. Once exposed to the general public, the remainder of all building inspectors and the entire construction industry taking them on and a very healthy lawyer they will be paying everyone they have threatened and extorted money from. It is simply extortion. It is strong arming. Once the patent office hears from the thousands of industry wide individuals and businesses they will see they made a very ignorant and grave mistake. The ultimate morons as they are are going to lose and eventually lose their business altogether.

    Does anyone have a number on how many inspectors these fools have extorted money from. I can see teaching if in fact that is what they do. With that teaching they can charge these folks money mothly if they want to joint their little club but outside of that they have absolutely nothing to stand on.

    Considering there are no national or multinational guidelines as to exactly how one is suppose to teach someone how to use these cameras other than the builders, engineers, designers of these cameras. And the fact that all cameras have their own patent these fools are just blowing smoke. 10 years business model??? So what. There is a multitude of inspectors that have been around far longer than these folks in the business and IR technology has been around longer than them. The first court case and these guys are the losers as they all ready are anyway.

    You would literally have to follow everything to a t all they way down to distances, writing reports a certain way etc etc etc etc. They cannot prove in the absolute slightest that any home inspector followed their exact steps and guidelines.

    As far as looking at a receptacle that is overheated or dampness on a ceiling above you???? So what. That is the basic model of all cameras at finding these faults. That is what they are built for. Freaking morons. Patent. For what. Holding a camera that has been produced far longer than these guys have been around or had patents on anything....Please

    Anyway. They are fools and will be proved to be so. The first person who gets a letter from a lawyer or court that they are being sued I will contribute money to that individual lawyers fees.

    Anyways, sorry folks. It is not any of you that upset me. It is ignorant fools like this company and its owners that get me going to no end.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Ted, you are correct they have not won a lawsuit, yet... Actually the suit they filed last month was the first one of its kind, we think they were testing the waters. They filed it in their home state against an inspector in their home state and they used a very large regional law firm.

    This first suit was withdrawn " without predgious" which means they could reinstate it with an email or phone call if they wish. The payoff by the owner of a Colorado based home inspector orginization just delayed everything and more than likely increased the incentive for the HomeSafe folks to expand their efforts.

    The manufacturers have indicated that they were waiting for a lawsuit, well now we have had one so we will hopefully see more of the IR vendors, trainers and manufacturers getting involved. The groundwork for a strong and professional coalition to fight future threats is being formed now by leaders of our profession, the energy profession, the manufacturers and other concerned professionals. This will not be a quick endeavor, but more than likely one that will drag on for several years. Patent Trolls like this are a blight on every industry and profession in our Nation and it will take our lawmakers in DC to reform the current willy nilly patent laws.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    I sent an email to Flir last evening. If they respond, I'll share it on this post. I was curious what their thoughts were on the subject.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    I sent an email to Flir last evening. If they respond, I'll share it on this post. I was curious what their thoughts were on the subject.
    The case in Fed Court N. Mississippi was HomeSafe Inspection, Inc. (plantiff) v. Assured Home Inspection, Inc. et. al. (defendant). There is a very good discussion including the actual HI who was the subject of the now dismissed suit on the TIJ forum under the Imaging topic discussion sub-board, can be viewed without logging in or signing up. That discussion cross-references three or four other such prior discussions on TIJ, well worth reviewing, and including contributions by ASHI taskforce/committee/investigations participant(s).

    The original complaint can be found on-line. Either PACER or a number of legal crawl/mining sites. Five patents were referenced, IIRC at least 3 of which claimed by plantiff/petitioner. Case citation: (northern district Mississippi, Federal) HomeSafe Inspection, Inc. v. Assured Home Inspection, Inc. et. al. 3:13-cv-00201

    Don't know WHY the announcement from ASHI mis-identifies the corporate name of the plantiff/etitioner, nor is was ambiguous about the firm who was sued or the case number, its public record..

    some links might prove helpful

    Homesafe Inspection v. Assured Home Inspection Et. Al.


    Homesafe Inspection, Inc. v. Assured Home Inspection, Inc. et al :: Justia Dockets & Filings


    Google search/docs in the Patent area may also provide a quick access to the patents referenced in the petition, they are:

    Count I

    Patent No. 7,445,377 B2 (the "377 Patent") titled "Non-Destructive Residential Inspection Method and Apparatus" issued Nov. 4, 2008 (Exhibit A)

    Count II

    7,434,990 B2 (the "990 Patent") titled "Method to Detect Termite Infestation in a Structure"Issued October 14, 2008 (Exhibit B)

    Count III

    7,369,955 B2 (the "955 Patent") titled "Method for Residential Indoor Environmental Quality Inspection and Monitoring" issued May 6, 2008 (Exhibit C).

    As I recall the discussions previously mentioned, it is aledged that the patents applied for approx 2004, based on existing publications, work, etc. based on studies performed while employed or funded by USDA or some other US agency. Unknown and haven't investigaged historical employment by any of the applicant "inventors".

    edited to add: for whatever reason the links I tried to the inspectors journal forum wouldn't work/format correctly. Perhaps Scott P. or someone else will do that for you (I need a nap).


    FLIR issued something in 2009 and was shared in one of four or so such discussions on the subject at TIJ by another contributor, is attached.

    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 09-04-2013 at 09:38 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    I sent an email to Flir last evening. If they respond, I'll share it on this post. I was curious what their thoughts were on the subject.
    Most likely will be a canned response if you get one. Everyone is holding their thoughts and comments just like you would a good poker hand.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Most likely will be a canned response if you get one. Everyone is holding their thoughts and comments just like you would a good poker hand.
    I just read the link on HG's post. Their reply will probably be identical to the one in 2009.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    56 percent of all patent lawsuits are made by patent trolls | ZDNet
    Why do businesses pay rather than fight? Because it's cheaper to pay up than fight. By 2008, the average patent judgment had risen to a mind-boggling $17.8-million. The cost of losing has only gone up since then. True, as Lex Machina has shown, the odds are vastly against you losing; but even if you win, it's costly to fight a patent troll.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Some information has come out about HomeSafe...

    It looks like Environmental Service Professionals Inc., is the parent company for them. If you want a look at their grand plan on how they plan on controlling the inspection profession their website has wealth of information on it.

    Oh, and for you InspectVue and Porter Valley users they also own them!

    ESP Divisions

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Some information has come out about HomeSafe...

    It looks like Environmental Service Professionals Inc., is the parent company for them. If you want a look at their grand plan on how they plan on controlling the inspection profession their website has wealth of information on it.

    Oh, and for you InspectVue and Porter Valley users they also own them!

    ESP Divisions
    Huh? I don't see any indication of any ownership interest by ESP in HomeSafe in your link, or elsewhere.

    Since when does "HomeSafe" equate to "SafeGuard"?

    Point us to it, please, read it twice, see no connection, or anything that "looks" as you indicate...

    WHERE did this suposed "..information has come out about HomeSafe..." COME OUT? where is it???


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Huh? I don't see any indication of any ownership interest by ESP in HomeSafe in your link, or elsewhere.

    Since when does "HomeSafe" equate to "SafeGuard"?

    Point us to it, please, read it twice, see no connection, or anything that "looks" as you indicate...

    WHERE did this suposed "..information has come out about HomeSafe..." COME OUT? where is it???
    Heck, it is on the website somewhere..... Look at this page Executives & Officers. It list their management team, with the two Home Safe boys..

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Thanks Scott, ASHI and everyone for looking out for our industry. We are a relatively small group and the actions and diligence of a small few can have a huge impact.

    I've read through the entire thread and into a couple links and it's just all thermal imaging stuff. Is there anything more to this at this that anyone could reach into other areas of inspections? I can't see it but am just wondering what the masses think. The concept is a bit scary and, like too many other things these days, where there is a trail of money there is some ambulance chasing lawyer at the other end.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Thanks Scott, ASHI and everyone for looking out for our industry. We are a relatively small group and the actions and diligence of a small few can have a huge impact.

    I've read through the entire thread and into a couple links and it's just all thermal imaging stuff. Is there anything more to this at this that anyone could reach into other areas of inspections? I can't see it but am just wondering what the masses think. The concept is a bit scary and, like too many other things these days, where there is a trail of money there is some ambulance chasing lawyer at the other end.
    Over on LinkedIn you will find a very good thread. It has several links in it that will give you the entire picture. It is not only IR, Patent Trolls are impacting almost every profession and industry.
    http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?vi...BU1&_mSplash=1

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Patent trolling took place in the 1990's with computers and software. Trolls were applying for patents and in many cases obtaining them for basic everyday computer algorithms even as lowly as having a computer add two numbers. Trolls were trying to patent almost anything that could be done on a computer. It was a major issue in the computer and software industry at the time but I don't think much happened with it. Of course, the trolls would have had to fight the big guys in the market like Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, etc. It's easy to sucker the little guy but the big guns have the money and legal teams to stomp them down where they belong.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by paul8809 View Post
    Nowadays, to buy a property is not an easy task because the rates of the property become higher day by day. It is highly recommended that when every you commit any financial transaction in the real-estate you should first take advice from the home analyst because they know each and every thing about the property; this is just like an investment. Last year when I was purchased my new home I hired Mr home thermal Imaging Inspection for the purpose of home inspection and I got some positive results from this type of investment. basically they have some advanced technique through which they can able to find out defects in our home which we can not able to see with our eyes.
    What? Who is this guy?

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    What? Who is this guy?
    Funny you say that, as I was thinking the same thing. His last 3 posts seem more like an ad for his services from a 3rd person standpoint. The first 3 seem like him talking, but the last couple of posts seem like someone else talking about the positive experience they had hiring him, perhaps a marketing ploy for when people Google...


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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Took a look at the site. Couldn't find any name listed of the owner. For the life of me I don't understand why inspectors leave-out, what I think a very important detail out of their website. Their name.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Link dropper! It was removed by Brian.....

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Link dropper! It was removed by Brian.....
    I think that moron will need to drop a lot of links to get any business.


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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    I sent an email to Flir last evening. If they respond, I'll share it on this post. I was curious what their thoughts were on the subject.
    Jim Robinson,

    Have you received a response yet?


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Threat to the Home Inspection and Thermal Imaging Industry

    Why is it a threat to the home inspection industry? Home inspection doesn't, as of yet, include IR as a standard.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

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