Annelies de Bosch Kemper-de Hilster
- Senior Associate
- European and Dutch Patent Attorney
- Senior Associate
- European and Benelux Trademark and Design Attorney
- Senior Associate
As a producer of high-quality cleaning machines, products and appliances, i-team Global has one targeted goal: to simplify the cleaning process for the business market and to bring back the joy of cleaning. An adjustment to the license agreement offered the opportunity to review its own position regarding intellectual property.
The Eindhoven company is active in 75 countries and has a clear philosophy. Director Frank van de Ven is its figurehead: “We make clients think of cleaning in another way. We do it by informing, innovating and inspiring.” You can trace this philosophy back to everything within the company. For example, the office has an exact replica of a fast-food restaurant, a bus and a childcare center. “Everything reflects the goal of experiencing the product on location and the working environment. With about 300 people, we work together as a team to find the most suitable cleaning solution for our client. We want to be the Apple and the Google of the cleaning market,” Van de Ven proudly says.
i-team Global offers a large palette of innovative cleaning solutions from scrubber dryers, vacuum cleaners and chewing gum removers to window and air cleaning products and accessories. Innovation lies in the genes of i-team. Each innovation must contribute to the five icons: faster, cleaner, greener, safer and better. The showpiece is the i-mop: a scrubbing machine which scrubs and mops intelligently and conveniently. i-mop machines clean up to 60 percent more rapidly than conventional wet mops and up to 30 percent more rapidly than automatic conventional scrubbing. In addition, the i-mop is much more maneuverable in small spaces due to its slimmer design and therefore more practical and pleasant to use. The unique hinge movement allows the machine to turn on its own axis. As a result, the i-mop can access edges and under obstacles, so these areas do not need to be checked by hand.
‘The license negotiation has led to more synergy in our IP portfolio.’Frank van de Ven – i-team Global
The basis technic of i-mop is protected by a German patent. According to Van de Ven: “i-team enjoys an exclusive license agreement with the patent holder. At the time, we drew up this agreement ourselves. At a certain moment, the agreements that we had made in this license problematic. In the meantime, we bolstered marketing and distribution activities and developed our own innovations as well.”
Van de Ven asked for help from V.O. for the renegotiation of the license agreement. Annelies de Bosch Kemper-de Hilster, lawyer with V.O.: “You often see that the focus is shifting thanks to an ongoing longer-term license agreement. First it is logical that the one who has invested in invention profits most, but as time goes by, the party who has invested in commercialization should receive more in return. In this case, i-team has generated much more value for the patent holder who realized that too. In close cooperation, we negotiated a better license agreement.”
The license for the i-mop is a part of the IP portfolio of the cleaning innovator. V.O. helps i-team as well by safeguarding its own brand and license. “Where we make our clients think about cleaning, V.O. does that for us in terms of intellectual property. We were primarily focused on product development for our clients. V.O. lets us see how to manage intellectual property in a more strategic way and that you create synergy by combining protection. So not one or the other but the protection of brands, models as well technical inventions.”
According to Van de Ven, there is a nice collaboration between i-team Global and V.O.: “It’s great that V.O. does not wait but thinks with us. They also regularly come to visit us. I think this is also important to be able to physically show what we’re working on. Therefore, I involve them in our strategy and company events. I see them as partners.”