|Unilin IP files ITC case against unlicensed resilient flooring products||Unilin IP files ITC case against unlicensed resilient flooring products||2019-03-24T23:00:00Z|
• 45 companies listed as respondents. Important part of products in complaint are assumed to be made under license of I4F.
• Patents relate to (1) folddown technology in resilient flooring panels and (2) glueless rigid or WPC panels.
• Complaint seeks a United States general exclusion order for all patent infringing products. Enforceable decision expected within 12 to 18 months.
On the 25th of March 2019, Flooring Industries (Unilin IP), together with its affiliated companies, Mohawk Industries and IVC US, filed a complaint in the US based on Section 337 of the US Tariff Act before the International Trade Commission (ITC). The complaint requests an exclusion order preventing the unlawful importation of vinyl products that infringe certain Unilin IP patents. Unilin IP is seeking a “general exclusion order” to empower US customs to block all patent infringing vinyl products at the US border.
The following companies are identified as proposed respondents: ABK Trading Corp., Anhui Hanhua Building Materials Co., Ltd.; Aspecta North America, LLC; Aurora Flooring LLC; Benchwick Construction Products Ltd.; Changzhou Jinuo Decorative Material Co., Ltd; Changzhou Marco Merit International Solutions Co.; Changzhou Runchang Wood Co., Ltd.; Christina & Son Inc.; Chungstine Inc. d/b/a Expert Hardwood Flooring, Davati Group LLC; DeSoto Sales, Inc.; Global Wood Inc.; Go-Higher Trading (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd.; Golden Tree Import & Export Inc.; Halstead New England Corp.; Hangzhou Kingdom Import & Export Trading Co. Ltd.; IN.id Corp.; JC Int’l Trading, Inc., Jiangsu Divine Building Technology Development Co. Ltd.; Jiangsu Lejia Plastic Co. Ltd.; JiangSu Licheer Wood Co., Ltd.; JiangSu TongSheng Decorative Materials Co., Ltd.; Jkgy Inc. d/b/a Nextar Trading; KJ Carpet Wholesale, Inc.; Maxwell Flooring Distribution LLC; Metroflor Corp.; Mountain High Corp.; Mr. Hardwood Inc.; National Coverings, LLC, Nextar Wholesale; Northann Distribution Center Inc.; Pentamax Inc.; RBT Industries LLC d/b/a Hardwood Bargains; RC Vinyl Inc.; Royal Family Inc.; Sam Houston Hardwood Inc.; Zhejiang Changxing Senda Bamboo and Wood Products Co. Ltd.; Zhangjiagang Elegant Home-Tech Co. Ltd.; Zhangjiagang Elegant Plastics Co. Ltd.; Zhangjiagang Yihua Plastics Co., Ltd.; Zhangjiagang Yihua Rundong New Material Co. Ltd.; Zhejiang Kimay Building Material Technology Co., Ltd.; Zhejiang Kingdom Flooring Plastic Co., Ltd.; and Zhejiang Walrus New Material Co., Ltd.
The complaint is based on 59 claims of 3 US patents: U.S. Patent No. 9,200,460, U.S. Patent No. 10,208,490 and U.S. Patent No. 10,233,655, which relate to the concepts of (1) angle-folddown locking mechanisms, including in resilient flooring panels and to (2) glueless rigid or multilayered vinyl flooring panels.
In 2007, Unilin obtained a general exclusion order from the US ITC based on its glueless locking patent portfolio – a decision which was confirmed in appeal in 2008 by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In order to enforce this general exclusion order, Unilin IP developed the L2C label system (License to Clic), whereby certain companies have to attach a unique holographic L2C label to boxes of products that incorporate Unilin IP’s technologies to identify that such products are licensed (www.L2Clabels.com).
“This new ITC complaint was necessary to safeguard Mohawk, IVC and Unilin’s continued US investments in the growing category of glueless vinyl products,” states Bart Van der Stockt of Unilin’s IP business. “In the last months, our market investigations showed an increasing presence of non-L2C labeled and thus unlicensed products, despite the fact that such products incorporated our patented technologies. We were also confronted with a competitor in the licensing business, “Innovations 4 Flooring” or “I4F,” which wrongly informed the market that the Unilin patent portfolio is not relevant when using their locking embodiment. We therefore had to act and file this new ITC action in order to bring clarity to the industry and protect our valuable innovations.”
A decision from the ITC to issue a general exclusion order, and to immediately block all infringing products at the US border may be issued within 12 to 18 months.
The 3 patents asserted in this ITC procedure are only a small part of the global resilient patent portfolio of Unilin IP. Currently, Unilin holds more than 130 granted US patents and another 40 US patent applications covering different aspects of the resilient flooring category, such as multilayer constructions, ABA cores, PVC-free embodiments, direct lamination, melamine paper and wood-veneer faced SPC, continuous EIR, painted bevels in resilient material, locking technologies, mineral cores, MgO boards, and others. Similar patent protection also exists in countries outside the Unites States, where Unilin IP holds another 800+ patents and 200+ patent applications in the resilient category alone.