Patent is a virtue

Liniar launched its thermally efficient window system in the middle of the recession in 2008, at a time when others were not investing in new product development. Since then, the systems house has launched product after product, each offering something unique.

Being the first to market with a new concept can often bring its challenges, and registering or patenting a brand’s designs has become critical to staying ahead of the game, explains Liniar’s design and development manager Chris Armes.

When we’ve come up with a brand new idea, we’ve always been keen to patent it at the earliest opportunity. As Liniar employs six full-time designers to create new products, legal protection is a sensible way to protect our investment from less committed competitors.

We know it’s very rare for a new design to remain unique for long, and there’s always someone out there who wants to produce something similar. Many fenestration products can look alike at first glance, yet it’s often the small design features that can make a massive difference – not only for consumers but also for installers and fabricators too.

Take our ModLok bifolding door, for example. When PVCU bifolds were first launched to the market there were certain limitations to how and where they could be fitted – we still hear horror stories today about badly fitted PVCU bifolds with inadequate strength for the aperture they were fitted into.

Steel was required to strengthen the PVCU, but inserting it into the frames meant the doors lost thermal efficiency; the steel allowing more cold air to travel through the frames.

We literally went back to the drawing board to find a way of strengthening the doors without compromising U-values. Exoskeletons, or strengthening on the outside, had not previously been used for PVCU bifolds as they interfered with the positioning of the locks – so we decided to design our own locking system and build everything in to one piece of hardware.

The unique modular locking system (trademarked ModLok) that we created not only gives our bifolding doors superior strength – rivalling similar sized aluminium bifolds – it means they’ve sailed through testing. The first bifold to pass BuildCheck’s Folding Sliding Door Scheme, the ModLok bifold, has also been accredited with PAS:24 and Secured by Design.

Our in-house robot has also tested a full-sized three-pane door to more than 127,000 full opening cycles (more than 12 times that required by British Standards), giving peace of mind that it’s built to last.

Because our exoskeleton design was so unique, we were keen to ensure no-one would be able to copy it, so we’ve gone to great lengths to protect it, applying for a patent as soon as we could and keeping a close eye on our competitors.

As we suspected, similar styles of bifolding door have since made it onto the market, but no-one has been able to copy our distinctive exoskeleton concept, meaning the ModLok’s combination of strength, security and thermal efficiency can’t be beaten by any other PVCU bifold. This gives Liniar and its customers an exclusive opportunity to offer a truly unique bifolding door, building both customer and brand loyalty.

It’s a dream for the Liniar marketing and sales teams as there are so many unique selling points to the door, at all levels of the supply chain.

Unlike hybrid bifolds, the ModLok bifold is made with standard fabrication machinery and processes, so it’s more cost effective for fabricators to manufacture. Its optional Part M compliant low threshold also means no trench excavation is needed on site for a seamless entrance.

Add to that the consumer benefits of security, durability, thermal efficiency and the option to fully match their Liniar windows, and it’s no wonder the ModLok has been a runaway success ever since its launch in 2014.