The S&F law blog

Yekalon, Unilin locked in patent case
November 23, 2009, 5:53 pm
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Yekalon and Unilin are engaged in a patent dispute

Chinese building materials provider Yekalon Industry Inc says it will take legal action “at any cost” to defend its self-developed locking technology for laminate and wood floorings.

The private company, based in the southern boom city of Shenzhen adjacent to Hong Kong, was charged by its much stronger competitor Unilin, a subsidiary of the US-listed Mohawk and located in Belgium, with patent infringement at a world fair in Germany in January.

“We have hired top-notch lawyers in Germany and will appear at the court of Hamburg on Wednesday,” said Wilson He Yixin, chairman of Yekalon. “We will never surrender to these groundless allegations.”

The focus of the case lies in a glueless locking technology for laminate and wood floorings. Unilin has owned patents since 1996 for the method and duopolized the market with another European company, Valinge.

However, the Chinese company invented a new locking method in 2005 which can connect the flooring by vertically tapping in the edges of the planks instead of the established technique of angling and snapping horizontally, according to He.

“Our locking technology is completely self-developed. It works theoretically different from that of Unilin. How can we infringe its patents?” he asked, adding that Yekalon has applied for international patents for the invention under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and will soon complete the process.

It is the second big clash between Yekalon and Unilin.

In July 2006, 18 Chinese flooring exporters, including Yekalon, were put under a Section 337 investigation by the US International Trade Commission (USITC) for patent infringement by Unilin and its subsidiaries.

Yekalon was the only company in the group that was not condemned by the investigation because the USITC found that its locking technology did not infringe the patent claims asserted.

The other Chinese companies who were using Unilin’s locking technology were ordered to pay $100,000 to $120,000 in royalties and $0.65 in royalties per cubic meter to the patent owner, or they would not be allowed to export their glueless laminate flooring panels to the US market.

It’s estimated that both Unilin and Valinge could earn more than $1 billion in royalties and licensing fees from flooring companies around the world.

Source: China Daily



China’s National Working Group of Eliminating Pornography and Illegal Publications has announced achievements that it has made since campaigns were launched earlier this year against illegal online and mobile phone publications. NWGEPIP stated on October 20 that since the special campaigns were launched to crack down on vulgar online and mobile phone content, China had seized 1414 illegal online literary works, closed 20 websites that were found spreading pornographic information, and deleted a total of more than 30,000 links to illegal web pages. Meanwhile, NWGEPIP has also issued a special circular which asks each region around China to make efforts to stop the spread of vulgar novels online and remove unhealthy content from websites. In addition, NWGEPIP also states operators of websites publishing pornographic publications will be severely punished. A representative from General Administration of Press and Publication stated that in the first nine months of this year, various measures were taken to monitor online publications and up to 50,000 literary works of more than 4000 websites were monitored. GAPP will continue to focus on four areas: making relevant regulations, speeding up the construction of online publication monitoring system, establishing a GAPP online publication monitoring center, and promoting the construction of Chinese online literary publication platform. News about these closures comes days after Chinese authors rallied online against Google’s plans to start a digital Chinese library service. has posted a message allegedly from Google which states that the American search engine will compensate Chinese writers USD60 for each book of each writer who agrees to allow Google to use the book online. The search engine stated in the announcement that it would pay at least USD60 to each writer for each book if the writer agrees to reconcile with Google, and the writer can receive 63% of the revenue from readers’ online downloading of the book in the future. Many writers have refused to accept the reconciliation agreement and have spurned Google’s take-it-or-leave-it attitude. The authors state they plan to continue to fight Google’s plans.

Source:Shanghai Daily