By Matthew Spieler
SHANGHAI, CHINA—The Faus Group has begun an aggressive worldwide campaign to not only license its patented embossed in register (EIR) and beveling technologies to other manufacturers, it is also taking out lawsuits against companies it claims are infringing on its intellectual property.
At last month’s Domotex asia/ChinaFloor (DACF), Faus executives took part in a highprofile ceremony with Power Dekor Group officials to grant the Chinese company a multinational patent license for its EIR and Joint Guard/bevel edge technologies. Power Dekor believes when it comes to EIR and beveling technologies, “Faus is the most advanced in these areas in the industry.”
Power Dekor is considered to be the largest manufacturer of laminate flooring products in China. Earlier this year, it negotiated an agreement with Unilin/Mohawk for a license to use the latter’s patented mechanical locking system.
The Faus license allows Power Dekor to make and sell products using its two surfacing technologies around the world, except for North America. The only company Faus is allowing use of its intellectual properties here are itself and its Faus Shanghai unit. Juan Flores, Faus’ president, said the company will “eventually open up” this part of the world, but “the whole purpose of having intellectual property is to combine it with your products and business to give you the differentiating edge over your competitors.”
He called the signing “a great development” and “the first step toward generating licenses with other leading companies around the world,” noting the mill has recently signed similar agreements with “major laminate players like Pergo and Unilin/Mohawk” as well as other Asian companies, including Elegant Living— China’s leading manufacturer of engineered and solid wood flooring—and Baroque Timber Industries.
Thomas Baert, minority owner of Faus Shanghai and the person charged as the Faus licensing agent in Asia, said the company will soon be signing more licenses. “We are in final discussions with a few more manufacturers, but Faus will be selective about it.”
In the past, Chinese companies did not honor the intellectual property held by other companies, but due to numerous court cases and international rulings many are doing an about face and striving to comply by signing licensing agreements with the various patent holders. “In the past 12 to 18 months, there was welcome action by the U.S. and Canadian governments to clear out those Asian manufacturers that were not playing by the rules when it came to recognizing proprietary intellectual technology and patents.,” Baert explained. “And it is very clear that serious flooring companies in China now understand the importance of intellectual properties.”
Flores added that the Chinese industry is very dynamic and ready to work worldwide playing the game by the rules. “It is going to surprise most of the establishment in Europe and North America as it is more agile and innovative than them. That is why we are part of that phenomenon in China with our joint venture at Faus Shanghai.”
Defending its property
Not only does Faus want to give itself an edge in North America, it wants those to whom it has granted licenses be successful, and it wants to maintain its ability to offer licenses to deserving companies around the world.
To do this, Flores said the company is taking “aggressive” actions to litigate against those it feels are infringing on its proprietary technologies. “We are approaching most of the laminate players in North America, Europe and China to enforce vigorously our patent portfolio about EIR and bevel. If we are not reaching license agreements we will litigate in those cases to prevent anyone using our patented technologies without paying royalties.”
Baert added, “Companies buying from these non-licensed manufacturers take very high risk and will likely be attacked by Faus. It is up to the U.S. buyers to ask the right questions and do their homework.”
Faus has already brought lawsuits against numerous companies in the U.S. and China as part of “a very firm enforcing policy we are following,” Flores explained.
While there are a number of lawsuits still pending resolution, Faus has already had victories in Shanghai’s Intermediate Court No. 2 against Hangzhou Singular Group and Hangzhou Bai Ju Yi Floor Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
For more information on Faus, its patents and licensing arrangements, call 888.231.3287.