Manufacturer files lawsuit against Home Depot
A local manufacturer of home exterior products has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Home Depot USA.
Grand Rapids-based Lacks Home Products, an affiliate of global manufacturer Lacks Enterprises, said last week that it filed an unfair competition lawsuit against The Home Depot related to a line of garage door products.
In the lawsuit, Lacks alleges that Home Depot and its sourcing subsidiary, HD Supply, committed patent infringement, breach of a prior settlement agreement and fraudulent misrepresentation, among other counts surrounding Lacks' Coach House Accents patented garage door enhancement products.
Lacks is seeking monetary damages and a permanent injunction prohibiting further sales by The Home Depot and HD Supply of the China-made product.
"We disagree with the claims in the suit," said Stephen Holmes, director of corporate communications, The Home Depot.
Lacks’ Coach House Accents is a line of garage door improvement products, including decorative simulated window overlays, handles and hinges that allow a homeowner to enhance the appearance of their home's exterior at a “reasonable cost.”
Lacks said it invented and patented the product and created the garage door enhancement category.
The company said soon after it launched its proprietary garage door accents, The Home Depot's HD Supply subsidiary worked with a Chinese manufacturer to make "a nearly identical product," but with allegedly "inferior materials and quality."
Lacks said it initially filed a patent infringement suit in 2012 against HD Supply before reaching a settlement agreement, whereby all parties agreed to a license for The Home Depot to manufacture and sell the garage door enhancement product, and HD Supply agreed to consider the design and quality concerns that Lacks had raised regarding the existing HD Supply product.
The current lawsuit asserts unfair competition and uncorrected quality issues with the garage door accents sold at The Home Depot.
The suit also alleges escalating consumer complaints related to the HD Supply product.
Lacks said the white window panels developed by HD Supply show "rapid deterioration and signs of yellowing," particularly in regions of the country known for high ultraviolet exposure or extreme weather.
Lacks said it conducted standard testing procedures on The Home Depot products, which “confirmed these consumer allegations.”
In contrast, the company said its color-molded garage door accent products are sold for the same price and include a 15-year warranty.
Tim Grant, product manager for Lacks Home Products, said Lacks wants to protect consumers and has asked The Home Depot to stop selling its “patent infringing” garage accent product.
"The reality is this is a small segment for both Lacks and Home Depot, but this is a matter of consumer protection, as well as fairness and a level playing field for American engineering and manufacturing,” Grant said.