Channel 5 of the Italian television network has agreed to make a public declaration in favor of Eschenbach Optik after airing a program pointing to Italy's Optigen as the only company to have developed a reliable technology for the manufacture of flexible shape-retention titanium frames.
The controversy was threatening to again poison the relations between Eschenbach and Optigen over the issue. After many years of legal suits and countersuits, on which we have reported in the past, the two parties had agreed to stop fighting against each other.
The new dispute erupted after Eschenbach found out that Giulio Velati, chairman of the Italian opticians' federation, Federottica, had stated on the channel that there was only one technology, developed by an Italian company, that allows titanium frames to bend without breaking and to go back to the original state.
He said this in the course of a satirical TV news program, called «Striscia la Notizia» («Headlines»), that is normally watched by millions of viewers. He wrongly indicated that any other titanium frames that don't use this technology can break, causing a risk for the consumer. The TV program showed allegedly counterfeit frames, bearing misleading names such as Memory Flex and Elastic Titanium, that fell into pieces after continuous manipulation. Velati said that the Italian technology makes use of pure titanium, but this is not true.
In reality, a different technology has been in the market for many years to make titanium flexible and to retain its shape, blending it with nickel. It is still used by Eschenbach and by Marchon in their respective product lines under the names of Titanflex and Flexon, although the related patents have expired. Optigen developed a different process to obtain similar results, and the related intellectual property rights, which have been recently taken over by an American company (see previous issue of EWI), are still protected by patents that are used by its licensees to provide solid guarantees for the consumer.
Prodded by Eschenbach, Velati has made a public statement in the name of Federottica that other suppliers, including the German company, offer safe shape-memory products with similar properties. However, Eschenbach has asked Channel 5, which is owned by Silvio Berlusconi's company Mediaset, to broadcast this declaration in the course of the same program. Contacted by us, the producers of the program said that they were preparing a clarification of the matter.