On 15 June 2016, the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) confirmed the validity of Unilin's European Patent EP 2 077 358, after having considered all the arguments presented by Patentwerk, the external Dutch patent firm of Innovations 4 Flooring (I4F), against the patent.
This European patent, granted by the EPO on 10 July 2013, protects a.o., flooring panels which can be connected with other flooring panels by rotating in the long sides (the so-called "angling" movement) and vertically joining the short sides (the so-called "fold-down" movement). Similar Unilin patent protection exists in North-America and other parts of the world.
"We assume that I4F believes that their own locking solution falls within the scope of this particular European patent, and that this led to the attempt to invalidate the patent through an opposition procedure", stated Bart Van der Stockt of Unilin. "Unilin has a strong patent portfolio protecting various locking systems, including fold-down systems."
The decision by the Opposition Division is open for appeal.
The decision follows an earlier judgement in favor of Unilin in the Unilin-I4F dispute by the Court of The Hague in the Netherlands. In that case the Court also denied I4F's arguments. I4F did not appeal the Dutch decision.