Read the article in the latest issue of the World Intellectual Property Review (issue 4/2022) written by our European Trademark Attorney Riikka Palmos.
Honka: smart thinking for sustainable living
Strong IPR portfolio helps to build trust and credibility among customers
With increasing numbers of people favouring sustainability and healthy living, Honka wooden homes are in rising demand. The Finnish company keeps its edge through some clever innovations and strong IPR.
The Saarelainen brothers founded Honka in 1958. Living in the forests of Eastern Finland, they grew up knowing, loving and understanding wood. Their dream was to bring its wholesomeness to people around the world.
Fast forward six decades and Honkarakenne (its official name) is an exchange-listed company that has built more than 85,000 wooden houses, as well as small- and mid-sized public buildings, hotels and offices. The company has annual revenues of over EUR 50 million, approximately 30% of which comes from exports to some 20 different countries. Russia, Japan and Germany top the list.
“There is rising global demand for wooden construction, as it’s more ecological than alternatives and healthier to live in,” says Honka’s Head of Marketing, Sanna Huovinen. “The driving force behind Honka is a will to provide our customers with innovations that allow them to live sustainably and comfortably in wooden homes.”
Meeting modern demands
The cornerstone of Honka’s operations is the trademark HONKA®. It has been registered in 50 countries and is also on the Finnish Patent Office’s list of trademarks with reputation.
One of Honka’s many innovations is Honka Fusion™. It’s the company’s name for a concept that allows wood to be combined with other materials, such as glass, stone and steel. Honka Product Director and R&D Head Eino Hekali explains:
“Honka Fusion is a breakthrough innovation we developed in the early 2000s. It’s a way of cross laminating the wood so it does not shrink at all,” he says. “This opened up a completely new market for us, as we could accommodate the material combination designs that architects demand for modern buildings.”
Another of the company’s brands is Honka Zero Corner™, launched in 2014. As the name suggests, it’s a way of arranging logs so they join in a completely flush manner. Unlike traditional log structures, there are no parts sticking out at the ends of walls.
The company also has an innovation called the Honka Smart Ventilation System™ – a technique to keep moisture at bay. It’s another win for sustainability, allowing Honka to build insulated walls without the use of plastic membranes.
Working with Papula-Nevinpat for 40 years
While Honka is one of the oldest companies making log homes, it’s by no means the only one. In Finland alone there are some 200 companies operating in the same industry.
To protect its trademarks and innovations in this crowded field, Honka has been working with Papula-Nevinpat for more than 40 years. Hekali says a strong IPR portfolio helps to build trust and credibility among customers, especially in those international markets where the brand may be less well known than at home.
“When customers see our IPR portfolio, they understand we have a long-term commitment to R&D,” says Hekali. “The five Saarelainen brothers who founded the company really valued innovation and invention. In this way, R&D is part of Honka’s DNA.”
“The construction industry moves very slowly, so when you bring a new product to market it takes several years before it becomes a big seller,” he says. “Patent protection is particularly important during this time, as without it we wouldn’t be able to build the market for something new.”
Photo: Honkarakenne Ltd.