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I4F augments licensee protection with new labelling system

Willemstad, Curacao–I4F, a group of companies providing patents and technologies to the flooring industry, is introducing new measures designed to further protect its complying licensees.

The company also said it has provided notice to terminate license agreements with two manufacturers—Jiangsu Simo New Materials Co. Ltd. and Weifang Green Residence Floor Material Co. Ltd.—following material breaches of contracts, despite several unanswered notifications to comply. These include a failure to submit volume reports for products using I4F’s patented technologies as well as the non-payment of contractual fees.

 

As from the second quarter of 2019, I4F will roll-out its new holographic labelling system to all I4F licensees as well as initiate a license compliance audit program. These new measures are designed to extend the scope of protection for all complying I4F licensees.

“Mutually respecting all contractual obligations is essential and normal business practice for all professional parties involved in a license agreement,” said John Rietveldt, I4F’s CEO. “As a patents and technologies company, we make it our business to ensure that all our complying licensees are fully protected from those taking part in non-compliant activities by attempting to use licensed technologies for free. These new measures aim to ensure that the lay of the land is fair and equal for all I4F licensees.”

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I4F names Kees Verhaaren as CFO

Willemstad, Curaçao—I4F has appointed Kees Verhaaren as chief financial officer, with immediate effect.

As I4F’s CFO, Verhaaren will oversee the financial management of I4F’s licensing business, companies and partnerships. He also will become a primary member of the company’s Operational Excellence team, assuring the continuous quality of I4F’s processes and procedures.

Verhaaren joins I4F from Unilin, where he spent a total of 11 years. For the last eight years, Verhaaren held the role of finance director for Flooring Industries Limited, Unilin’s IP company located in Luxembourg. In this position, he managed all administrative and finance related matters for Unilin’s IP business. He was also responsible for finance and a board member for Mohawk Group’s entities in Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Verhaaren played a key role in supporting Mohawk’s expansion and M&A activities.

“Kees is another extremely valuable addition to our fast-expanding team,” said John Rietveldt, CEO, I4F. “His extensive financial and international knowledge of the global flooring IP industry brings immediate depth and experience to our licensing operations. He will support us with I4F’s administrative and financial infrastructure to organize our rapidly growing portfolio in licenses and volumes.”

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I4F launches new WeChat account

Eindhoven, The Netherlands—I4F, a group of companies providing patents and technologies to the flooring industry, has officially launched its WeChat account. I4F’s WeChat account features important insights into the global flooring industry as well as information on the company’s technologies and patent portfolio including 3L TripleLock and Click4U.

To help licensees accelerate their marketing activities, the company is also offering a full range of marketing materials including installation films, brochures and newsletters in Chinese. A blog from I4F’s CEO, easy access to the team and details on how to become a licensee are also available via the account.

“Chinese manufacturers following our account have instant access to real-time information on I4F and its technologies, as well as important global news and trends emerging from the European and U.S. flooring markets,” said John Rietveldt, I4F’s CEO. “Transparency and open communication enabling freedom of choice and new innovations to flourish differentiate us from our competitors. Reflecting this, I will share my perspectives and personal opinions on specific industry issues via a blog. Our WeChat account now gives Chinese flooring players access to relevant, trustworthy news upon which they can rely on to help them to create more growth and profit as well as to take advantage of the opportunities of tomorrow.”

With more than one billion users per month, WeChat is the world’s fifth most popular social media network, following Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Topping the rankings in terms of usage, more than one third of users spend in excess of four hours per day on the service compared to an average of twenty-two minutes on Facebook. WeChat is also China’s leading online video platform in terms of mobile daily active users and subscriptions.

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I4F appoints Matthieu Dekens as chief operating officer

Willemstad, Curaçao– I4F has appointed Matthieu Dekens as its chief operating officer, with immediate effect. Dekens’ main focus is to accelerate demand for I4F’s technologies with the global top 50 retailers, as well as maintain and establish business relationships with flooring manufacturers.

“We are delighted to welcome Matthieu to the I4F team,” said John Rietveldt, I4F’s CEO. “Having had the pleasure of working with Matthieu before—both at Ideal Standard International and Tarkett—I have no doubt in his ability to hit the ground running. Matthieu’s extensive international and commercial experience in the flooring and construction industries will accelerate I4F’s drive on market expansion and the commercial development of our patent portfolios.”

Dekens joins I4F from Ideal Standard International, a European leader in bathroom solutions, where he was vice president of sales and marketing as well as a member of the company’s management board, reporting to the CEO. Previously, he spent 10 years at Tarkett in various positions. He was also business unit leader for Tarkett’s vinyl floors category for western Europe, based out of Luxembourg.

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I4F seeks to change the innovation game

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Ken Ryan

 

Las Vegas—When he started Innovations 4 Flooring (I4F) in 2009, John Rietveldt could envision the day when his company would be known as an intellectual property player on a global scale in the field of locking systems.

“I am not surprised by our success, but you have to be lucky,” the CEO told FCNews at Surfaces. “For 20 years, two companies dominated the landscape [in locking systems], but people need to be free to use whatever system they want. The market was ready for innovation and for change. Our locking system is now the standard for SPC.”

I4F is noted for its 3L and TripleLock locking profiles as well as Click4U, a one-piece, drop-lock solution that eliminates the need for an additional insert on the short side. The technology works with all materials including LVT, rigid core flooring, multilayer flooring, laminate and wood. He said his main focus is to make Click4U a market standard.

Rietveldt called 2017 “a breakthrough year” for the company and added, “this strategy continues in 2018 and has already gained significant momentum.”

Indeed, the company has been extremely busy forging partnerships with global companies, with three such moves occurring in January. First, it announced an extension of a strategic partnership with the Classen Group in which I4F obtained exclusive sub-licensing rights for one of Classen’s IP portfolios encompassing more than 500 patents specific to flooring materials, locking patents and important inventions for digital printing and liquid laminate technology. This extended partnership follows the agreement between I4F and the Classen Group announced in January 2017.

Two weeks later, I4F signed with Ulrich Windmöller Consulting, which owns all the patent rights for Windmöller Plastic Core Patents in Europe; it is also co-owner of the Windmöller Patents Rights in the U.S. along with Kowon R&C Corp. These patent rights cover products containing a plastic core, including LVT and WPC. Lastly, I4F inked a global strategic partnership pact with Kronospan. As part of this agreement, I4F receives rights for Kronospan’s patent portfolio covering flooring locking, wall panels, board compositions and production, as well as digital printing and furniture. “We have all the important manufacturers on board,” Rietveldt said. “We are getting to a very strong position.”

The evolution of this IP company also included a name change, to the brand-friendly I4F. As Rietveldt noted, “We are a new modern company that is expanding and trying to do things differently.”

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Innovations4Flooring, Classen extend strategic partnership

Domotex, Hannover, Germany—Innovations4Flooring (I4F) has extended its strategic partnership with the Classen Group. Effective immediately, I4F obtains exclusive sublicensing rights for one of Classen’s IP portfolios, comprising over 500 patents, covering key flooring materials, specific locking patents as well as important inventions for digital printing and liquid laminate technology (LLT). This extended partnership follows the agreement between I4F and the Classen Group announced in January 2017.

“Our strategic partnership with I4F is now stronger than ever and, we believe, will confirm Classen’s strong technology capabilities as well as contribute to the delivery of strong results for the Classen Group,” said Arne Loebel, managing director of the Classen Group. “We chose to transfer sublicensing rights to I4F for this IP portfolio because Classen always strives to work with the best.”

I4F’s strategic partnership with Classen is key as I4F continues to support the industry with cutting-edge technology and innovation. “To remain competitive and profitable, the industry continues to demand cost-effective, open and more advanced solutions like digital printing and LLT which, as from today, here at Domotex, we can now sublicense,” the company said.

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Innovations4Flooring, Kronospan sign strategic partnership agreement

Willemstad, Curaçao—Innovations4Flooring (I4F) has signed a global strategic partnership agreement with Kronospan. As part of this agreement I4F receives rights for Kronospan’s 1,000-strong patent portfolio covering flooring locking, wall panels, board compositions and production, as well as digital printing and furniture. This adds to I4F’s strategic partnership agreements with Classen and Kowon, established in 2017.

“This latest strategic partnership with Kronospan is a significant stride forward on our path to deliver the best technological solutions for the flooring industry,” said John Rietveldt, CEO, I4F. “Kronospan’s impressive heritage and commitment to innovation is fully aligned with our strategy to be a leading global technology company. We are partnering with the best and now, together with Kronospan, Classen and Kowon, we are creating a powerful platform that provides accessibility to open and meaningful innovations.”

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Laminate: I4F system benefits consumers and installers alike

September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.08.11 PMInnovations4Flooring (I4F), a technology company focused on the development of patents and flooring installation solutions, has more than doubled its number of licensees over the last 12 months. This growth is driven largely by acceptance of the company’s flagship technologies, including 3L TripleLock and Click4U. 3L TripleLock provides a one-piece drop-lock installation innovation, and Click4U delivers an angle system for the long side, combined with drop-lock on the short side.

3L TripleLock is being acclaimed as the new market standard with more retailers in the U.S. asking their suppliers to switch over to the system. Results, so far, are proving extremely positive with those implementing the solution witnessing a sharp sell-out growth rate that is outperforming the overall market.

According to retailers and installers, the solution is extremely easy to use, enabling the placement of floors to be much quicker while maintaining the highest quality levels. The system’s appeal is now also extending to consumers as it is suitable for all types of flooring and, in particular, products made from new, high-demand materials.

In the U.S., installers are voicing their support of 3L TripleLock, expressing how easy and fast it is to install floors using the solution. They especially like the fact that it delivers tight seams without the inconvenience of any moving parts, according to I4F. 3L TripleLock is up to 30% faster to install than basic clicks and doesn’t need any special tools, including tapping blocks or tool bars. In addition, replacing or swapping out planks is straightforward with its simple slide and lift system.

All this enables installers to meet and exceed their customers’ demands.

“Our goal is to revolutionize the global flooring industry by bringing meaningful innovations into the market and, at the end of the day, the customer is king,” said John Rietveldt, chief executive officer of Innovations4Flooring. “People will always choose the easiest and fastest solution, and when they can also use the same technique on the newest materials, their decision becomes very clear cut.”

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Laminate: The latest innovations in ‘click’ technologies

September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.03.25 PMWith all the attention being paid to WPC-type floors—and rightfully so—one might think there’s not much happening in the way of innovations with other competing hard surface categories.

That notion could not be further from the truth as evidenced by what’s taking place in the mature-but-still-evolving laminate flooring sector. As several manufacturers continue to fortify their coreboards with materials and proprietary processes designed to better resist water or repel moisture altogether, several companies responsible for developing glueless locking systems are ramping up their own innovations.

Following is an overview of the latest glueless locking system developments along with a summary of how several click system licencees are incorporating those technologies in their respective products.

Innovations4Flooring (I4F)
One company at the forefront of glueless locking systems is Innovations4Flooring (I4F). Its latest innovation—3L TripleLock—provides a unique one-piece, drop-lock installation system for flooring panels that eliminates the need for an additional insert on the short side. The system works with all types of flooring materials, including laminate coreboard panels. According to I4F, the elimination of the additional insert on the short side provides manufacturers with the possibility to improve productivity levels while at the same time reduce their costs and carbon footprint. Furthermore, the 3L TripleLock click system (see illustration) is suitable for existing high-speed production. The good news for installers is shorter laying time. According to I4F, boards featuring 3L TripleLock technology can be installed up to 30% faster than basic click systems. Plus, there are no special tools required for installation.

While the 3L TripleLock system addresses installation issues on the short side of the plank, I4F’s Click4U technology, an angle-system, takes care of the long side. Combined with the drop-lock on the short side, the locking strength is very high. And just like 3L TripleLock, Click4U is suitable for existing high-speed production machinery.

I4F’s technology is already being used on millions of square feet of flooring around the world. “We believe the global flooring market is ready for change, and our innovations will play a significant role in this huge industry transformation,” said John Rietveldt, CEO, I4F.

Unilin Division Technologies
Unilin Division Technologies is the intellectual property unit within the Unilin Group that grants licenses with regard to Unilin’s patent rights.

Unilin provides several different glueless locking system platforms, including Uniclic, UnitFit (Plus and X) and Unipush. Uniclic is the industry’s traditional glueless locking technology for installation of flooring and wall panels, while Unifit Plus and Unifit X are designed for fold-down installation of flooring panels, which includes laminates.

Lastly, Unipush aims to make push-down installations even more intuitive and simple. How it works: By angling the long side of the panel in, the panel can be connected on the short side simply by pushing the panel down on the short side. No additional materials, i.e., inserts, or equipment, are necessary using this system.

To date, Unilin Division Technologies manages more than 2,000 patents in over 300 patent families. Several licensee partners include: Alsapan, AGT, Berry, BHK, Classen, Clarion Industries, Egger Group, Faus, Kronotex, Mannington, Pergo, Shaw, Tarkett, Uniboard and Witex, among others.

Classen, a Unilin licensee, utilizes state-of-the-art locking technology in its Megaloc system. Manufactured in Germany, the Megaloc locking system Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.03.48 PMis DIY friendly and makes installation simple and seamless. In illustration: A laminate floor with a Megaloc system has a locking mechanism on the short side. The panels are simply dropped down into the joint of the previously laid row. As planks are lowered, a special patented insert/lock, located on the short end of the laminate, will lock the plank in place. (A locking-clip in the short grooves allows the next plank to be locked directly from above.) Once the panel is installed into place, the locking element also locks and a stable connection is created. All the installer has to do is press along the short side when he hears the click.

Other well-known lines featuring Unilin click technology is the Majestic collection from Quick-Step and Mohawk-branded laminates. Equipped with the patented Uniclic system, the products allow a quick and easy installation for floor layers. The products also score points in the aesthetics department. Majestic, for example, comes in a variety of decors from vintage/reclaimed to rustic and smooth and features surface texturing designed to mimic real wood floors. The line also touts resistance to water and scratching.

“Based on original wooden planks, the R&D team uses innovative techniques to develop a product that combines natural beauty with the practicality of high-end laminate,” said Ruben Desmet, general manager laminate, Unilin.

Uniboard is another Unilin licensee. The company’s lamiante flooring product range includes both 12mm and 14mm offerings, each featuring the “Bestlock” glueless locking technology. The end result, according to the company, is a streamlined installation anchored by strong locking joints.

Välinge
Välinge continues to demonstrate its knack for innovation with the latest iteration of its signature 5G locking system. Known as 5G-i, the new system is designed, in part, to expand the installation options for a variety of new floating plank flooring products hitting the market.

How it works: Slits underneath the groove side of the panel provide flexibility so the tongue side—when pressed downward in a single-action motion—clicks into place.

While the system is new, it doesn’t represent a difficult learning curve for installers. In fact, floor layers don’t have to learn a whole new procedure when installing the panels at all. Installers can take it apart the same way they would with the traditional 5G, the company said. Another advantage of the system is it reduces costs (no need for plastic tongues or insertion machines).

Välinge Innovation’s patent portfolio comprises more than 1,600 granted patents and a global license base of over 200 licensees. The company’s range of locking systems provides an industry standard for installing floating floors. Valinge licensee holders include: Armstrong, Abel Laminati, Alloc, Berry Floor, BHK, CFL, Classen, Faus, Mannington, Pergo, Shaw Floors, Swiss Krono and Tarkett, Uniboard and Witex, among others. For instance, all of Mannington’s current laminate collections (Restoration, Revolutions, Coordinations and Value Lock) can be laid down via a click-lock mechanism for fast, secure installations. While the company strongly recommends using trained, professional installers to achieve the best long-term performance of its various flooring products, it advises DIYers to follow all directions contained in the Installation Guidelines brochure.

Shaw’s VersaLock and LocNPlace patented locking technology securely installs laminate flooring panels on all four sides. This single-action locking system enables installation in a snap, literally, without messy, slow-to-dry glue.

Swiss Krono, which markets the American Concepts brand, is a licensee of locking systems developed by both Unilin and Valinge. The vast majority of these systems are designed for private-label applications.

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I4F unveils revamped website, launches new installation films

Innovations4-680x320Willemstad, Curaçao—Innovations4Flooring (I4F), a technology company providing flooring solutions, has launched a new set of marketing materials including a new website and two new films available for free download on the company’s YouTube channel as well as the new website.

The completely new website incorporates industry updates and introduces new pages outlining its strategic partnerships, innovations and patent strategy. Additionally, a new section on I4F and its one-piece, drop-lock installation system provides manufacturers and installers access to the latest research and I4F test results. Information is split by consumers and the industry for increased relevance. First hand industry news can be obtained by subscribing to I4F’s newsletter.

Two new installation films are now freely available for download on the company’s YouTube channel as well as the new website. One film describes I4F’s flooring installation system—3L TripleLock and Click4U—and highlights how it can be applied to all types of flooring and provides the easiest solution for all new, high demand materials. The second film zooms in on installation, showing how the system is easily applied in a real-life demonstration.

“We are excited to launch these new materials as part of our on-going marketing strategy designed to support manufacturers, retailers and installers during this important transformation towards our advanced one-piece drop-lock system,” said John Rietveldt. “Our licensees can now view information relevant to them online and have a dedicated point of contact via the website. In a fast-moving industry, where new technologies are key towards the creation of high value customer propositions, staying up-to-date is critical. We remain committed to ensuring that our licensees and the global flooring industry have all the information necessary to achieve their goals.”