I4F & Unilin Form Agreement Around Certain Patent Technologies

Hamont, Belgium and Waregem, Belgium, February 2, 2023--I4F and Unilin Technologies have come to an agreement around patent technologies. 

I4F, a group of companies providing patents and technologies to the flooring industry, has entered into a settlement agreement with different parties concerning digital printing and digital embossing technologies. The agreement, covers all relevant direct-on-board digital printing and digital embossing patents from I4F, Hymmen, Classen, Kronospan, Zeetree, Barberán and Unilin and is effective immediately. I4F represents and holds the licensing rights for all digital printing and digital embossing patents from Hymmen and Classen.

As a result of this agreement, all pending and threatened litigation between the various parties, relating to digital printing and digital embossing patents outlined in the agreement, in domestic courts as well as before the European Patent Office, are withdrawn. I4F’s Digital Printing Technologies cluster licensees will now benefit from an expanded freedom-to-operate through an undertaking that Unilin, Zeetree and Barberán patents will not be asserted against the manufacturing, distributing and selling of digitally printed and/or digitally embossed products. 

The scope of the digital printing settlement agreement covers decorative panels with any type of wood, mineral and/or polymer based core, including MDF, HDF, LVT, SPC, WPC, MgO, PP, PU and cork. 

I4F and Hymmen entered into a strategic patent partnership in January 2021 giving I4F licensing rights for all Hymmen’s digital printing patents and technologies for flooring production, including Hymmen’s award winning Digital Lacquer Embossing Plus (DLE+) technology. I4F continues to work in close collaboration with Hymmen to promote new digital printing opportunities in the flooring industry.

Over the past years, pending and threatened patent litigation resulted in continuous legal uncertainty, costs and commercial risks which hindered the adoption of breakthrough digital printing and digital embossing technologies in the global decorative panel industry. To end the stalemate and to accelerate market adoption of digital printing and digital embossing technologies, the various parties have agreed to settle their pending and threatened disputes. For existing and future licensees of I4F’s Digital Printing Technologies cluster, this allows them to benefit from a significantly expanded freedom-to-operate when producing and selling decorative panels with a digital décor print and/or digital embossing. This means that I4F licensees can manufacture and sell their products without the threat of a patent infringement litigation.

I4F believes this settlement facilitates the accelerated worldwide market adoption of digital printing technologies with unlimited digitally embossed-in-register décor design possibilities.

In addition, Unilin Technologies, Barberan and Zeetree reached an agreement with different parties to open up its broad patent portfolio for direct to board digital printing and texturing. The agreement creates enhanced freedom to operate and legal certainty for those interested in digital printing and texturing for decorative panels.

Unilin already announced its partnership with Barberan and Zeetree for high-performance digital texturing solutions in 2021. Through the most recent agreements, Unilin is now able to offer expanded patent protection that includes not only the main Unilin patents in the area of digital structuring, but also additional relevant patents from Barberan, Hymmen, Zeetree, Classen, Kronospan and I4F.

The agreement also puts an end to the legal battles between different technology providers and offers enhanced legal security to anyone desiring to step into digital printing and texturing of decorative panels.

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