Passive House and the Public Domain

If there is a question as to what it means to be a Passive House, please see the blog post “What is Passive House?”  But if there is a question as to the history of Passive House, the public domain and trademarks in the US, let’s review:

The Passive House Institute (PHI), founded in the early 1990s, filed for the trademark “Passive House Institute” and its mark in 2007, and both were approved in 2009, see here and here.  PHI also filed for “PHPP”, the cornerstone instrument of Passive House, and it was approved in 2010, see here.

Curiously, in 2009 and early 2010, the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), who was operating as a contracted service provider to PHI via its EcoLab entity, filed, without the knowledge of PHI, for seven Passive House related trademarks:

    • “Certified Passive House”, which was abandoned later in 2009, see here.
    • “Passive House Institute US”, which was abandoned in 2010, see here.
    • “PHIUS” mark, which was approved in 2010, see here.
    • “PH” mark, which was approved in 2011, see here.
    • “NACPHC”, which was approved in 2012, see here.
    • “PassivHaus Bau”, which was approved in 2011, see here.
    • “CPHC”, which was abandoned later in 2010, see here.


In 2011, for reasons unrelated to trademarks, PHI canceled its contracts with EcoLab/PHIUS. See here.

Then in January 2012 PHIUS again filed to trademark “CPHC” (see here, approved in August) and then six days later in January threatened to sue NY Passive House in regards to the use of the terms “Certified Passive House Consultant” and “CPHC”, see here.   NY Passive House responded that there were no grounds for PHIUS’ claims and that such a suit would be frivolous, see here.

In February 2012 PHIUS filed a lawsuit against ECO Smart Building, P.C., ECO Smart Building LLC. and George D Sullivan, a former board member of PHAUS.  (PHAUS is the association controlled by PHIUS.)  See here.

Then in March of 2012, PHI filed to trademark “Certified Passive House”.   It was published for opposition in Sept 2013 and PHIUS opposed it.  PHI decided to stop paying lawyers, and declined to respond to PHIUS’s opposition and abandoned pursuit of the trademark through a default judgment.  See here.

The End?  Or to be continued?  Only time will tell.