Välinge maintains a strong protection on Combiloc technology
Viken, Sweden - March 02, 2006
Välinge has several patents in Europe and US based on the VA 6 “Combiloc” patent family.
These patents are mainly related to wood floors and describe how combinations of different materials, in the same edge or between long and short sides, could be used to improve cost, function and strength in mechanical locking systems.
The first patent EP 1 084 318 was maintained in a slightly amended form at opposition in EPO in September 2005.
The second patent EP 1 215 352 protects floor panels where the short side is made of a separate material different to the material of the long side. Most wood floors on the market use this technology today.
This EP-352 patent was unexpectedly revoked on February 22, 2006 by the opposition division who was of the opinion that the main claim of the patent is known from the Välinge PCT application from 1994. None of the opponents used this strange interpretation in writing or in oral proceedings.
Välinge is of the opinion that this decision is not correct since our 94 PCT application do not describe the use of different materials on long and short sides.
During opposition against the Välinge Utility Model DE 299 24 259 the next day on February 23, 2006, the opponents used the arguments of the EPO and argued that the claim of the Utility model, which was similar to the EP -352, should be revoked.
The panel of examiners did not follow the EPO and the opponents and agreed with Välinge that the Välinge 94 PCT did not describe different materials on long and short sides and that it therefore was not a prior art against the Välinge Utility Model.
Only minor modifications, such as the incorporation of wood fiber as a material from which the locking element on the short side is made of, were required in order to maintain the protective rights of the main claim.
The German Patent Court therefore decided on February 23rd that the Välinge Utility Model
DE 299 24 259 was new and inventive over the prior art. (*).
Unilin, Meisterleisten and Parador failed in their attempt to have the Utility Model revoked.
Välinge’s and its licensee Berry will now reactivate its pending German court cases against Meisterleisten and Parador
The revocation of EP-352 will be appealed as the reasons for its nullification are not convincing. Välinge is convinced that the decision will be overturned by the appeal board of the EPO, especially if the main claim is reduced slightly similar to the upheld Utility Model Claim. Until than, the Utility Model gives a strong protection in Germany, which is the major market for wood floorings in Europe.
(*) the decision can be appealed