Bike frame design IPR

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  • Bike frame design IPR
  • Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    Can you patent or protect a bike frame design? Surely its just a set of different sized tubes welded together at a specific set of angles.
    I guess it becomes a bit more complicated with a full sus design, but what is there to stop someone simply copying the angles and tube sizes off a hardtail and then getting a batch made up?

    I’m not about to do it, but I’m intrigued to find out if it could be done.
    Whaddya think?

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    You probably can in the US – the patent office there will let you register pretty much anything. Hope you’ve got plenty of money for lawyers if you want to protect it in the courts though. In countries like the UK with a proper patent office, you’d need to have a significantly original idea (I can’t believe you’d get anywhere with any hardtail design, though there are possibilities with a full-sus).

    Premier Icon cy
    Subscriber

    IPR and Patent are two different things. You can’t patent a double diamond frame design because it’s not original art. Doesn’t matter what the details are. If you invented a new way of manufacturing a double diamond frame, you could patent that process, but not the resulting frame design. IPR is different, as it’s the property of the design, so e.g. I own all the IPR to Cotic frame designs, because I designed them all and they’re all on my drawing frames. It’s a tough thing to defend and something engineers will whinge about til the cows come home, but theoretically if I had evidence another manufacturer had built an identical design to mine from one of my drawings and was passing it off as their own, I could defend my IPR in court.

    jackthedog
    Member

    Sorry for slight hijack here but it’s on topic…

    Okay Cy – hypothetically, let’s say I released a versatile steel framed roadbike with slotted drops, that accepted discs and racks and guards and everything, and just happened to call it a ‘Streetrat’, and the geometry just so happened to measure up very similar to yours how easy would it be for you to do anything about that?

    I won’t, by the way. Don’t worry.

    Just thinking that surely there’s a point where you could legally say ‘hang on a minute, this guy’s copying me’. Where does the line sit between ‘similar’ and ‘rip off’?

    brant
    Member

    When I worked for on-one, we had a US manufacturer, who used to be the on-one distributor flat-out copy all our funky bars.

    Now, I wasn’t that bothered as :-
    1) Our Mungo bar was a flat out copy of a Nitto moustache.
    2) The Mary bars they made broke quickly.

    I guess you could tie yourself up in knots persuing them in court, but until you get to a certain size, you can’t afford the staff to do that. Specialized have a legal division that requested that Planet X stop selling the “armadillo” frame as SBC had the TM to the name “armadillo” in Class12 for tyres.

    I rely on first-mover advantage, or pricepoints. If someone can do it better and cheaper, you’re not doing it right anyhow, so fair play.

    You’d potentially be breaching Cy’s copyright and if you called your bike company “Coptic”, you’d potentially be liable for “passing off”.

    What Cy said above is fundamentally correct, save that Patents are a class of IPR, the only difference between a Patent and some other classes of IPR (e.g. copyright) is that a Patent must be registered in order to protect the thing being patented and in order to get the Patent you need to satisfy a number of tests/criteria. Copyright automatically exists upon creation of an original piece of work (e.g. a frame drawing) so no need to register anything. Obviously, there are exceptions/defences to IPR infringement (e.g. independent development).

    jackthedog
    Member

    I’ve never understood how there can be such a hugely successful counterfeit industry. Someone posted a link to a counterfeit watch webiste the other day on here, and the site was boasting how if you could tell the difference bewteen their £500 copies and the few thousand quid real thing they’d give you double your money back or soemthing.

    How does that go on? Madness.

    Anyway, sorry, that’s off topic and I was hjacking as it was.

    jackthedog – Member
    I’ve never understood how there can be such a hugely successful counterfeit industry.

    Not much to understand really, other than it’s a criminal enterprise, and if the perps get caught they could be put in prison.

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Subscriber

    If someone can do it better and cheaper

    Someone can always make it cheaper, especially if they have no R&D budget because they rely on ripping of existing designs. I can’t think of any cases of this happening in the mtb world though, but in other industries it’s a right royal pain in the but.

    brant
    Member

    Someone can always make it cheaper

    That’s why I said *better* and cheaper.

    Easy to make things better.
    Easy to make things cheaper.

    Not easy to make things better and cheaper if you’ve done a good job.

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Subscriber

    That’s me getting my “and” and “or” mixed up.
    I agree with you now you’ve put me in line.

    brant
    Member

    I agree with you now you’ve put me in line.

    good lad.

    thepodge
    Member

    i’m fairly sure that back in the mist of time (1998- 2000) or something some one was selling bikes that were a carbon copy of the Orange bikes. i forget the name but it was clear they were coming from the same same far east factory and everything but maybe £50 cheaper on a P7 style. it was noted in all the reviews

    brant
    Member

    back in the mist of time (1998- 2000)

    is that the “mist of time” now? Lord.

    Tushingham B52’s – or rather rebadged Muddy Fox Couriers, yeah. But that was the mists of time around ’88.

    thepodge
    Member

    haha, no not at all. just my bike is pre discs or any one of these million BB standards. i took about 8 years out of riding mountain bikes and its all different now.

    i’d be interested to hear Pace’s comments on this

    sq225917
    Member

    Yeh me too, that’s shameless copying.

    AB
    Member

    Mate has that Viper – it is VERY similar to said Pace.

    CountZero
    Member

    I truly fail to see how Specialized can TM a word like armadillo, which is in common usage, and stop it’s use for something that is radically different. You can’t ‘pass off’ a bike frame as a tyre, ffs!. Their aggressive legal tactics, like buying up someone else’ suspension patent, in which they had zero input, then forcing other manufacturers, including one of the designers, to cough up to use it is, frankly, downright immoral, and one reason I will never again buy Specialized.

    mtbtomo
    Member

    Thought the viper was available before the Pace? Whether they saw the prototype Pace and got to market first, thats another matter…

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    I truly fail to see how Specialized can TM a word like armadillo, which is in common usage, and stop it’s use for something that is radically different. You can’t ‘pass off’ a bike frame as a tyre, ffs!. Their aggressive legal tactics, like buying up someone else’ suspension patent, in which they had zero input, then forcing other manufacturers, including one of the designers, to cough up to use it is, frankly, downright immoral, and one reason I will never again buy Specialized.

    Because they’ve got lots of lawyers and are prepared to use them – you need to have plenty of money to even think about taking them on, even if you think their TM/patent is dodgy. As Scott found when they thought about fighting the dodgy Horst Link patent – the issue with which is not so much that they bought it, but that it should never have been issued in the first place due to prior art (patent is only valid in the US, where the patent office is notoriously slack, preferring to let people fight it out in court).

    thepodge
    Member

    Thought the viper was available before the Pace?

    yeah, exactly. we all assume that because Pace are cool and British we should accuse the others of wrong doing.

    brant
    Member

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=16000

    Riding this frame since May 07

    Pace first look in Mid 2006.
    http://www.BIKEmagic.com/news/article/mps/uan/4900

    a closer look reveals that the shock is mounted between the two links rather than between the upper link and the frame. We’ve seen this idea before – Fusion and Iron Horse bikes use it – but as with all designs, small changes can make a lot of difference. Pace’s Adrian Carter says that the system is inspired by a Suzuki GP motorcycle of days gone by.

    as far as im aware specilized have put a patent on the FSR technology and its all to do with the rear pivot point being below the axle ie: not in line. also some companys have to buy the right to use the technology.

    if you look at a ellsworth id thats a examople of having to buy rights off of spec

    thepodge
    Member

    Pace’s Adrian Carter says that the system is inspired by a Suzuki GP motorcycle of days gone by

    i think that’s probably the most influential factor.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Yes, but the whole point oooo is that the FSR patent is distinctly dodgy (Specialized didn’t even patent it – they bought the dodgy patent), and only actually valid in the US (hence nobody has to pay Specalized anything to sell such bikes here – as Scott used to).

    begs the question, why dont turner/ellsworth etc build lots of horst link bikes, and a token numbe of other ones for the US market, then stand back in amazement when the bike market in northern mexico becomes aproximately the same size as the US was previously?

    A similar situation exists between Giant and Dave Weagle. Giant Maestro clearly infringes the DW link patent, much to Dave’s dismay, but he always cites their bigger wallets as reasons to not pursue it in court, (although a cynic may say if he truly had a case he would have by now).

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    I suspect that the DW link patent is no more valid than the FSR one (noting it only seems to have been patented in the US), hence he knows he has a good chance of actually losing if he did take it to court.

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