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Brown Jordan acquires Sun Isle intellectual property, trademarks

Founder will continue to develop innovative woven constructions

Brown Jordan International beat out competitors to acquire all the intellectual property assets of Sun Isle, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based designer and manufacturer of all-weather woven furniture products and yarns.  
  
Under the agreement, BJI acquired Sun Isle’s 60 U.S. and international design patents, utility patents and pending applications as well as six trademarks including the Sun Isle name.  BJI will continue to support Sun Isle’s current customer base as well as market the products to new customers through future product development. Terms were not disclosed.

“After recently completing our financial restructuring, we have immediately invested in technology to help us grow our business through the acquisition of Sun Isle’s assets,” said Gene Moriarty, BJI’s CEO. “As woven outdoor and transitional furniture continues to be the fastest growing category in the marketplace, the patent-protected Sun Isle technologies will allow us to take a broader array of sophisticated products to our customers. Furthermore, after a successful balance sheet restructuring we are in a much more sound position to dedicate ourselves towards the expansion and protection of BJI’s intellectual property portfolio and innovative technologies.”    Larry Schwartz, Sun Isle founder and CEO, will work with BJI under an exclusive relationship through at least 2012. His discussions with BJI had been underway for more than six months, but did not turn serious until BJI completed its financial restructuring last week, Schwartz said. Meanwhile his licensing discussions with Home Casual got snagged on international details and did not come together, he said.  “I am very pleased to have finalized this agreement with BJI, which I believe to be the most financially sound and well managed company in our industry,” Schwartz said. “BJI’s diverse Asia supply chain, on-time delivery, commitment to the woven category and multi-level customer base makes BJI far superior to any other vendor to deliver the high-end Sun Isle technology to the industry. I am confident that BJI will continue my vision for developing innovative woven furniture to meet the needs of the ever changing marketplace.” Chris Carmicle, BJI president, national accounts and direct imports division, said the patents and technology Sun Isle has developed since 1992 will speed BJI’s woven advancement. “What it ultimately will mean for Brown Jordan is an opportunity to grow our business and help protect our customers and grow their businesses for them as well,” he said. “The weaves that Larry uses are primarily found in only the highest levels of national accounts and the specialty markets. You won’t find this stuff on $500 price points.” Current Sun Isle accounts include Brown Jordan, Agio, Home Casual and Tropitone along with retailers such as Crate & Barrel, Target, Frontgate, Costco, Lowes, Home Depot and Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club is expected to be the first to introduce Sun Isle weaves under BJI distribution as early as February 2007, Carmicle said. “It’s not Brown Jordan International’s intent to up-end any current relationships that Larry has already carved out,” Carmicle said. “We will consider each of those on a case-by-case basis as they expire.” Schwartz said he has no problems with Agio or Home Casual, but described the latest agreement as an economic business decision. “It just made sense to us and the other deals just didn’t work out,” he said. “The thing that makes my yarns so significant is they look real and so they get used inside the house a lot. It’s called transitional furniture and people use it in the living room on the porches and outside – that’s a much bigger universe of customers, a bigger market and people will pay more. The value of something going in the house is greater than if you put it in the back yard.”

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