THERMA-TRU SETTLES ONE SUIT, FILES 3 MORE OVER SMC DOORS

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Therma-Tru Corp. has settled its lawsuit against Peachtree Doors Inc. over composite front doors, but now Therma-Tru has sued three other competitors, alleging patent infringement.

Maumee, Ohio-based Therma-Tru makes the doors with skins compression molded from sheet molding compound. The stainable doors closely resemble wood entry doors.

Therma-Tru settled its suit against Peachtree in December, and recently launched patent infringement lawsuits against three other door makers: Pease Industries Inc. of Fairfield, Ohio; Nan Ya Plastics Corp. of Livingston, N.J.; and Stanley Door Systems of Troy, Mich.

Therma-Tru first sued Peachtree of Norcross, Ga., in 1989 after Peachtree introduced its Newport door.

In 1995 a judge barred Peachtree from making the original Newport. Peachtree quickly designed a new SMC door called Newport II, which it claims does not violate the Therma-Tru patent.

David K. Welles Jr., Therma-Tru chairman and chief executive, would not discuss his firm's settlement with Peachtree.

Pease Industries received notice of Therma-Tru's suit in January, said David Pease III, vice president of marketing and product development.

``We're quite frankly surprised. We don't feel that we've infringed on their patent in any way,'' Pease said.

A Nan Ya spokeswoman confirmed that the company has received the lawsuit. Nan Ya intends to defend its composite door, she said.

Stanley Door Systems and its parent, Stanley Works in New Britain, Conn., would not comment.