Now confirmed: HTC's European patent on Twister™ is fully valid.
The judgement of the Supreme Court confirms the interim bans on Luftfartsverket, LFV, (the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority) from using 3M’s copy of HTC’s product Twister™ at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm and on 3M’s distributor City Papper from selling it. This re-confirms HTC’s European patent on Twister™.
On 5 May, the Supreme Court confirmed that it was not granting leave to appeal the previous decisions of the Court of Appeal on 10 December 2009. This, therefore, confirms the judgement of 10 December in which the Court of Appeal re-confirmed that HTC’s European patent on Twister™ is fully valid and that HTC has sole rights to the Twister technology and the associated method. The court rejected LFV’s and 3M’s distributor’s joint appeals, following a decision of the European patent authority EPO’s board of appeal, which HTC has appealed to EPO’s highest body, against the judgements issued in April 2009, when the Court of Appeal originally issued the interim bans.
The judgement from December 2009 means that the Court of Appeal unambiguously decided that HTC’s European patent is valid and, with the greatest probability, this will be upheld by the final judgement.
The Court of Appeal wrote the following:
“Following the decision of the board of appeal, the Court of Appeal has carefully reviewed the reasons upon which the decision was based. The statement of the board of appeal has not convinced the Court of Appeal that the patent cannot be maintained or that LFV’s/City Papper’s appeal for invalidity would be granted if the patent was maintained. Despite the presumption that formed the basis for the assessment in the decision of 2 April 2009 no longer being valid, the Court of Appeal nevertheless finds that a review of the cited and other circumstances gives ample cause for the conclusion that the invention, following a final judgement, will probably be protected by a valid patent. ”
This means that 3M’s copy of HTC’s Twister™ invention cannot be sold in Sweden. Furthermore, Luftfartsverket, LFV, may not use the product. A breach of this ban is subject to a fine of SEK 500,000. This also means that HTC’s options for defending its right to the Twister™ invention have been strengthened significantly in international terms.
The background of the patent dispute
Twister™ represents a revolution in the cleaning industry with chemical free cleaning, which at the same time creates amazingly clean and shiny floors. It replaces all conventional products for floor cleaning and related chemicals, which consequently form a large commercial threat towards 3M for example. This is why 3M plagiarised HTC’s invention and started selling it internationally, despite the fact that HTC has an international patent pending for Twister™ and HTC also hold a granted patent at EPO and several individual countries. Since LFV and 3M’s distributor City Papper, despite requests from HTC, refused to respect the patent, HTC was forced to sue them to defend its rights to the invention. 3M has also requested that HTC’s European patent of the Twister™ system is suspended. However, the verdict means that the High Court of Justice makes the assessment that this will not be succeeded.
Chemical free cleaning with Twister™
Twister™ is a unique cleaning system with diamond impregnated pads for cleaning machines invented by Håkan Thysell, founder of HTC. This method facilitates completely chemical-free cleaning, i.e. significant environmental benefits, as well as better results and lower costs, in other words this is a typical example of a Clean Tech product! The product has quickly become an unbelievably immense commercial success and approximately 1,000,000 Twister™ pads have already been delivered. International agreements both for distribution and use of Twister™ have been signed with many of the major operators within the cleaning industry such as ISS and Nilfisk. Twister™ will consistently be a corner stone in the new concepts for environmental cleaning which are being prepared all over the world right now, the so called Green Cleaning! Leading multiple stores organisations in Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom and United States already use the system in the daily cleaning of their stores. It is also used by many leading airports worldwide, with the exception of Arlanda.
Söderköping company HTC Sweden AB is a rapidly-growing gazelle company, founded in 1987 by Håkan and Gunn Thysell. The company is a contractor within floor care and concrete grinding. A patented-grinding system was launched in 1992 and HTC is currently an international market leader within floor grinding systems based on diamond technology and patented technical solutions. HTC has also developed unique floor solutions recommended by SNF within, among other things, polished concrete under the brand name HTC Superfloor™ and has recently introduced the unique diamond-based cleaning and maintenance system Twister™ internationally. The head office with product development and production is located in Söderköping. There are sales companies in the USA, Germany, the UK and France. There is also specialised production in the USA. Since August 2006, British company 3i Group has been a minority shareholder in HTC Sweden. 3i is the global leader within private equity and focuses, among other things, on minority investments in organic rapidly-growing companies and organisations that are expanding rapidly through company acquisitions.
Håkan Thysell, Innovator and owner, HTC Sweden AB, Ph: +46 (0)121- 294 00
Sten Jeansson, Business Development Director, HTC Sweden AB, Ph: +46 (0)121- 294 00