Now the fleimio trolleys are not available
fleimio trolleys are not available now. A new manufacturer has been sought for the trolleys since June 2021. In August, a new manufacturer was finally found, which now, in October, suddenly said that they would not start manufacturing them.
In the spring of 2021, Ornamo organized webinars on IPR rights, in which legal professionals in the field provided related instructions. One of the clearest guidelines for a small business owner was adequate design protection and good contracts with both manufacturers and resellers.
Design protection and suspicion of copying
The design of the fleimio trolleys is protected. The protection is by no means perfect, but reasonable: fleimio trolleys (fleimio original and mini) are EU-protected and in addition, the fleimio original has a design patent in the USA. In addition, EU design protection has been extended to the United Kingdom. Moreover, the fleimio trademark is protected in the EU, China and the United Kingdom.
I recently suspected that fleimio design rights had been violated. I investigated the problems related to this copying topic for about a year (Oct 2017…Dec 2018) until in December 2018 I stopped all fleimio operations. In that case, the last obstacle was the preliminary ruling of the Supreme Court of Finland that said that violating the EU design rights in Finland was not a crime.
This preliminary ruling of the Supreme Court of Finland meant, I understand, that a small entrepreneur has his own rights, but he cannot ask the Finnish police or customs for help with copying, because violating EU design rights is not a crime in Finland. One should raise a lawsuit, which can be really expensive – especially if the counterparty is large. At least I couldn’t afford the lawsuits. Here another big problem was, how to prove the doubts.
One big problem in clearing up copying suspicions was that if the product suspected of being copied was completely copied, how could this be proven as a copy. To prevent copying, or perhaps better to say slow down, I developed the fleimio product registration service, where each fleimio product ordered was made unique by adding a unique product number and registering product ownership.
I founded my own fleimio shop – fleimio design-art-work – in January 2020. It was the only official store that sold fleimio products because the resale had stopped. The fleimio Product Registration was automatically added to new ordered products and could also be acquired for previously purchased fleimio products. Unfortunately, I had to close down the shop, but fleimio Product Registration is still available for orders placed in the fleimio.com online store.
Contracts and design rights
The problems I have experienced with fleimio trolleys with pirated manufacturing, copying and branding have made me wary of contracts. With agreements, the situation with the protection of design rights is more problematic.
When the design of the fleimio trolleys was completed in 2010, one really big bottleneck at the time was finding a manufacturer. For example, many Finnish manufacturers did not agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). I think there is a pretty big problem if it is difficult to make a contract with the manufacturer. Of course, it must be admitted that the fleimio agreements with the manufacturers have been in order so far (2011-2021). In retail: in my experience, it is pointless for a small business to even try to negotiate contracts with the them: there are either no contracts, no need – or the supplier (often the owner of the design rights) has to accept the retailer’s terms.
The added value of design
Design makes the product more desirable. This often means that the product is more expensive if the design is desirable and adds value to the product. In addition to the higher price, it is obviously important how that created added value is distributed through margins.
The manufacturer of a design product obviously needs to get a higher reward for the work he does. Manufacturers in Finland are likely to assume that 1/3 of the tax-free sales price of a design product is the product’s manufacturing cost.
Retailers get more money because the selling price of the product is higher. In this way, the Finnish state also earns more VAT. In the design products trade, the margins of potential importers and resellers are currently, in my view, unreasonably high from the point of view of a small business, given that the responsibility for marketing a product or range often lies with the seller (design rights holder). In my experience, retailers’ margins range from 1/2 to 2/3 of the product’s VAT-free retail price. The importer’s margins need to be taken into consideration too.
Quickly calculated, the distribution of margins mentioned above can be understood that the owner of the design rights and the marketer of the product and/or product assortment have little margin left in the current market, if the product is sold in retail.
fleimio trolleys are not available now, but the dream lives on
The trolleys have had four manufacturers in 2011-2021. Finding a new manufacturer for the fleimio trolleys has been difficult. A new manufacturer has been sought for the wagons since June 2021. In August, a new manufacturer was finally found, which now, in October, suddenly said that they would not start manufacturing them. Of course, my interpretation may be wrong, but I personally suspect that the problem was the contractual matters and, in particular, respect for the design rights of the fleimio products.
The dream is that the fleimio trolleys will sometimes be made again. Now all I have to do is raise new capital to be able to start my own manufacturing or become a partner in a carpentry workshop, because now it seems that there are no other options. Unfortunately, this can take time. “Things will work out in time” is an old, good, Finnish saying. I think that the suspected copying of the fleimio carts will sometimes be solved too.
I hope the current owners of the fleimio products will register them. This increases their value and prevents copying. The OECD estimates that the global market for copied or counterfeit products was worth $ 461 trillion in 2013.
For more information on Fleimio product registration: https://www.fleimio.fi/en/general/how-to-identify-a-genuine-fleimio-product-2-2020/
From this link you can order Fleimio product registration: https://www.fleimio.fi/en/product/fleimio-product-registration/
P.S. The Finnish Supreme Court made a new preliminary decision in 2019, which in my opinion overturned the preliminary decision 36:18, i.e. now again the violation of EU design rights is a crime in Finland.