A patent dispute between two producers of wood plastics composites (WPC) which started in 2011 has now been settled.
The German-language wood trade journal Holz-Zentralblatt reported in December 2011 that a patent dispute had developed between Novo-Tech, based in Aschersleben, Germany, which makes Megawood-branded WPC profiles, and UPM, the Finnish paper group which makes Profi Deck WPC.
The dispute, involving claims by Novo-Tech against UPM and German wholesaler Kl"pferholz, was later resolved by mutual out-of-court agreement between the two WPC producers, Holz-Zentralblatt reported in June 2012.
The height of the controversy came in November 2011, when Novo-Tech followed up its legal suit in relation to its EP 1524385 patent by proceeding together with the police against the other two parties at the Branchentag Holz and Eurobaustoff Forum trade fairs in Germany.
WPC products of both companies are polypropylene-based, but discussion between the litigants confirmed essential differences between the products: UPM has been using lignin-free cellulose fibres from the waste material arising in production of its Raflatac paper and plastic labels, while Novo-Tech uses wood fibres.
The EP 1524385 patent refers to a mixture of natural materials such as wood fibres, wood shavings, straw, hay, rise husks and plastic, preferably polypropylene, and adds that the material may include some cement for greater binding strength. The Czech WPC producer Grena had earlier submitted an objection to the patent claims, but this was rejected on 14 December 2010, with legal effect from 21 February 2011.
UPM first launched Profi Deck in 2007 with the Artek furniture design company and Japanese architect Shigeru Ban in a 200m2 pavilion at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile furniture fair in Milan. Profi Deck was developed in Finland and is produced both in Finland and at a newer plant set up in 2008 in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Novo-Tech started producing its Megawood profiles in 2005, setting up a new plant in Aschersleben for the products in 2007. Founder Holger Sasse said in a January 2012 interview with the local MDR radio and TV station that the company had 100 employees and claimed it was the European market leader, with exports reaching as far as Australia and Brazil.
Sasse revealed plans to win business for WPC profile in truck load-floors as well as in acoustic panels. He also told the broadcaster that Novo-Tech had formed a partnership in early 2010 with the woodchip ingrained wallpaper producer Erfurt & Sohn in Wuppertal to open up new WPC markets.