HOUSTON - At the Builders' Show, Peachtree Doors Inc. showed a redesigned Newport composite entry door, dubbed Newport II, that it claims will get around Therma-Tru Corp.'s permanent injunction. Therma-Tru of Maumee, Ohio, won the court order that barred Peachtree from making the Newport door, as of Oct. 26, 1995. Therma-Tru first sued Norcross, Ga.-based Peachtree in 1989, the year Peachtree introduced the Newport.
The injunction appeared to give wide authority to Therma-Tru's 1985 U.S. patent covering a ``compression molded door assembly.''
Composite doors are made with skins compression molded from sheet molding compound. They can be stained to resemble wood doors closely.
Peachtree's new door makes only minor modifications from the original Newport, according to Steven Muellner, executive vice president for sales and marketing at the Peachtree unit, Caradon Doors and Windows Inc. In the new door, the edges of the SMC skin no longer are wrapped around the insulated core, made of foamed polyurethane. Instead, the skin ends in a straight edge.
``It's an almost imperceptible difference,'' Muellner said in an interview at Peachtree's booth.
Muellner said Peachtree started shipping the new door in November, only about one week after the injunction kicked in on the earlier door.
Therma-Tru bought one of the doors. Therma-Tru President Stephen Bores said last week the company is considering further legal action.
``We've just torn it apart and turned it over to our attorneys,'' he said during the show.
The legal battle has broad implications for other manufacturers of composite SMC front doors. Muellner said every firm essentially uses the same manufacturing processes.
Therma-Tru claims to have invented the fiber-reinforced plastic, composite door.
FRP doors accounted for only 4 percent of the U.S. market for residential doors in 1994, a market dominated by steel and wood, according to a study by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the National Wood Window and Door Association.
The Builders' Show was held Jan. 26-29 in Houston.