Shanghai—Two years ago, Flooring Industries introduced the License To Clic (L2C) program (FCNews, April 19/26, 2010) to distinguish those companies that are legally licensed to use its patented intellectual properties from those that are infringing on its patents. During the recent Domotex asia/ChinaFloor show here (FCNews, April 2/9), the company announced as of April 1, all licensees, even those with cross-license agreements, must incorporate a specially designed sticker on product boxes which signifies their affiliation.
Flooring Industries is the Belgium-based intellectual property company within Mohawk Industries’ Unilin Group that grants licenses with regard to Unilin’s patent rights, most notably its Uniclic locking system.
Bart Van der Stockt, managing director of Flooring Industries, said any products that feature Uniclic yet do not have the official L2C sticker on the carton will be deemed to have come from an illegal source. “In America, there have been cases where a company bought from a Chinese company thinking it had a license to use the Uniclic system when in fact, that company did not pay the licensing compensation. So the [distributor, importer,] was actually buying illegal products.”
The L2C sticker, he added, is designed to help eliminate this. The sticker, which has been updated since 2010, was created to make it virtually impossible to illegally copy it. “It’s made so it would take more time and resources than it is worth to copy,” Van der Stockt said.
The 1-in. label features a color-coded hologram so buyers can quickly and easily identify legally licensed products. The labels come in three colors—blue, purple and green. Blue is for cartons sent to the U.S., purple is for products sold within China and green is for the rest of the world.
An added security feature to the labels is a bar code, allowing them to be scanned to see pertinent information. To help ensure things go smoothly, he said the company continues to educate agencies that inspect goods coming into their country about the label and what to look for to validate its authenticity.
He stressed the L2C labels are only for products made in China, as that is where the aspect of patent infringement is still the greatest. “In the last few years, China has done a much better job respecting intellectual property—we have granted licenses to more than 100 companies. Nonetheless, it is a practice that still exists.”
Another reason for using such a label, Van der Stockt said, is to hopefully prevent patent infringement lawsuits from happening.
As the company has proven through its licensing program, he said the labels are not meant to restrict advancement. “We feel technology needs to be shared—if it’s not, then we’re really not supporting the business and industry. If we allow others to invest in technology, it makes for a stronger industry overall. But, those who invested the time, energy and money into developing the technology should be rewarded for taking the initial risks. And companies that legally pay their way in should also be protected from those trying to benefit by illegally copying the technology. The L2C program is designed to do all this.”
In the end, Van der Stockt concluded, the label is about giving peace of mind. “If you want no headaches and want to sleep well at night knowing you are selling legally made products, look for the L2C label before accepting any cartons.”