ITC to Investigate Potential Glueless Vinyl Patent Violation

Chattanooga, TN, May 16, 2019-Unilin, a subsidiary of Mohawk, announced the following statement announcing that the International Trade Commission (ITC) was investigating whether certain companies had violated three Unilin-held patents related to glueless vinyl, and the CEO of one of the company’s accused, Halstead, responds to the announcement. 

This follows Unilin’s announcement on March 26 that it would file such a case. This month, the ITC confirmed that it would investigate the matter.  

Says Unilin, “On May 9, the ITC ordered that it would institute a section 337 investigation of the importation of unlicensed vinyl flooring products into the United States. The investigation so instituted is based upon the evidence brought forward in the ITC complaint filed by Flooring Industries Ltd. Sarl (Unilin IP), Mohawk Industries Inc. and IVC U.S. Inc. on March 25.
“The ITC complaint was filed against 45 companies, including manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of glueless vinyl (LVT, WPC and SPC) flooring products, and alleges infringement of 59 claims of three granted U.S. patents owned by Unilin IP. In this ITC complaint, Unilin IP not only seeks an exclusion order against the 45 specifically-named respondents, but a general exclusion order against all imported vinyl flooring products that infringe the U.S. patents identified in the complaint.  
“The ITC ordered to institute the investigation despite a statement submitted by Innovations4Flooring Holding NV (I4F) on April 10, which claimed that the proposed exclusion order was against public interest. 

Harlan Stone CEO of Halstead New England Corporation, one of the 45 companies named in the complaint had this say in reply:

 “The ITC routinely institutes 337 investigations requested by domestic manufacturers.

“The institution of an investigation is no indication of the likely success of applicant claims. The actual story is the fight has begun. None of the named parties have replied or advanced any defenses to the claims, which will happen shortly. We will vigorously defend against all of Unilin’s allegations and the hearing (if any) will not occur until 2020.

 “Further, the vague references to ‘relevant patents,’ ‘properly labeled,’ and ‘paid for’ are implying that the decision of the ITC has already been made.  No decisions have been rendered, no replies by any of the 45 companies have been made, and round one of this fight has not yet begun.”