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Winning smiles: Ivor and Sheila Chivers, of Eco Solutions

A North Somerset company is celebrating after winning a David and Goliath battle with a U.S. firm.

Tiny Eco Solutions based in Winscombe, took U.S. giant Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing to court after it brought out a product similar to one of its own.

Four years ago Eco Solutions developed the world’s first environmentally friendly paint stripper – Home Strip. The company immediately patented the new product, which was developed with the help of scientists at Bristol University.

A year later 3M patented a similar product, which they launched on the world market.  Eco Solutions was unable to persuade 3M to drop or amend its product and decided to take the U.S. giant to the European Patent Court in Munich.

The court case pitted family-owned Eco Solutions against one of the 200 biggest firms in the world.  The U.S. firm is worth around £18 billion – about the same as the Halifax.  In contrast, Eco Solutions is hoping to sell around £100,000 of Home Strip this year.

But two weeks ago the court backed Eco Solutions and stripped 3M of its European patent. The move clears the way for the company to market the product across Europe.

Eco Solutions managing director Ivor Chivers said it was a victory for smaller firms worldwide.  He said: ” We were surprised when they decided to revoke the patent, we thought 3M might just be told to amend its patent claims. We were delighted by the news as it means we have been backed in our stand and we can now go and make a success of the product.”

Source: Bristol Evening Post

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