An Eden Prairie and a Chinese company that have been feuding in court for several years over patents covering their competitive "flame-like" electric candle, have decided to join forces.
For the second time in several years.
Luminara Worldwide of Eden Prairie and Liown of China have formed a joint venture, L&L Candle Company.
CEO Johnny Yang said the joint venture "will bring a single-minded and focused determination to bring best-in-class products and services to our retail partners. We will do this by expanding future product lines, investing heavily into R&D and design...and protecting our combined 100-plus domestic and international patents and patent applications."
Luminara sued Liown, a China-based maker and distributor, in 2012, charging that the Chinese manufacturer stole its flameless candle technology, and sales and market share, after the two firms had struck a distribution agreement in 2010. The two resolved their differences in 2012.
Luminara filed a second suit in 2014, after a 2012 settlement fell apart, charging that Liown stole its patented flameless technology. In 2015, a federal judge enjoined Liown and several U.S. suppliers from sales of certain types of candles covered by the Luminara suit.
The candles feature a battery-powered device that shines a small light on a movable, wafer-thin silhouette of a flame that appears to flicker when it is turned on. They come in different colors and shapes. The flameless candles feel and look like real candles but without the waxy mess or fire hazard.
The U.S. market for the product was estimated at $500 million-plus in 2015.