SRAM starting to kick off about thick/thin chainrings and Patent?

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  • SRAM starting to kick off about thick/thin chainrings and Patent?
  • Premier Icon richmars
    Subscriber

    Reasons why we are cheaper: The design of our ring does not incorperate hooked directional teeth and additional chamfers – Machining time = Money

    If I was being really unkind, I would say, also because you don’t have to pay for R+D.

    If I was being really unkind, I would say, also because you don’t have to pay for R+D.

    Not entirey true but i agree not to the same level of expense.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Just thinking out loud but if the “cross” shape is a key feature then would just running another pass and adding an extra step or a bevel get around that?

    Moses – Member

    Northwind, for knock-off I mean copying the key features

    Sure, but your point was that SRAM have to recoup r&d while others don’t… But that’s only the case with a direct copy. Admittedly variations on a theme are cheaper to develop than totally new concepts (not that SRAM have produced a totally new concept), but competitors have come out with simpler designs that still work just as well- an improvement not just an analogue.

    Rick – I see you’ve changed the website blurb to remove the “Inspiration taken from SRAM’s own XX1” line… probably for the best 🙂

    Moses
    Member

    Northwind,
    Even if it’s not a direct copy, it’s still using someone else’s idea for your benefit. The variation may or may not be enough to avoid infringement, that’s for the lawyers to decide. The development may still take work, but the IP is imortant too.

    Another drug-related analogy: the patents on a particular drug are for the active chemical used. Patent busters and generic manufacturers still need to work out how to make that ingrdient, which may involve quite a bit of R&D. They still can’t sell the drug while its under patent, even tho they could patent the process used to make it.

    Rick – I see you’ve changed the website blurb to remove the “Inspiration taken from SRAM’s own XX1” line…

    Ah yes, though not on the advice of the forum – as i say we have been talking to people about the matter and that was the first point raised 😉

    Premier Icon mattjg
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    Premier Icon molgrips
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    As I understand it, the US patent system lets you file any old thing, and relies on your competitors lawyers to come up with prior art.

    With the UK and I think EU system the patent office does a prior art search and can refuse you.

    hora
    Member

    SRAM will look like C U Next Tuesdays from this.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Moses – Member

    Even if it’s not a direct copy, it’s still using someone else’s idea for your benefit. The variation may or may not be enough to avoid infringement, that’s for the lawyers to decide. The development may still take work, but the IP is imortant too.

    Of course, but all that was specifically about R&D costs. And the fact remains it’s not SRAM’s idea.

    Premier Icon unklehomered
    Subscriber

    And the fact remains it’s not it wasn’t SRAM’s idea first.

    May be a vital bit, it seems unlikely Sram look to the 1970s agriculture industry for inspiration. Yeah they may have seen it, may have had a similar idea mindependently, it does seem a bit like the Cat Flap, an obvious idea someone somewhere still had to think of.

    Tricky. Certainly not as simple as it at first seems. Since SRAM are holding back their tech from the mass market formats, I hope the Works is sufficiently different not to be effected. At least until I get a few in…

    A lot of people keep going on about R&D costs, and that SRAM may have spent a lot researching this and that this justifies the patent. Nobody has any information about how long they had been testing/making/researching this. It’s quite possible that someone came up with a design one morning and then later in the afternoon a CNC Mill knocked one out for testing which worked A1 instantly.

    I’m not saying it’s not a good idea – it is – but it’s incredibly simple and is just one of those wierd ones where nobody has made it before as it’s almost too obvious. Just saying, I can’t see that this took years of R&D and millions of dollars investment.

    Someone mentioned the clutch thing erlier, that’s a perfect example of the patent system working as it should.

    Shimano design and patent the ‘clutch’, patent it, and the patent tells the rest of the world how it works and gives shimano protection against people copying it.

    SRAM then made something different/better.

    Thus the patent system encouraged development of new technology and competition.

    There are examples in other industries like petrochemicals, F1, NASA, and the military where companies deliberately don’t patent stuff as the idea is you have to share the knowlage of what it is you’re doing so they can go away and develop better stuff. In those industries they rely on the idea remaining secret from competitors (other licencors, teams, countries).

    You could probably patent the Eurofighters controll software for example, but that would mean publishing all it’s details, putting a lot of Chinese spies out of work!

    It depends how the patent works. If it is strict, it may not allow ANY design which retains a chain solely by the tooth profile of the chain ring. That will leave no where for manufacturers to go and no other designs possible.

    If they patent the specific X-Sync shape then that’s not so bad.

    if sram put a patent on this and get away with it then whats the biking world coming to?

    shimano had a clutch mech first, no matter how you build it up whether different internals are used or what ever, the principal is the same, they ripped off shimano’s clutch mech, its as plain and simple as that

    so SRAM can do one, hopefully it will get quashed and it wont come to fruition, but if it does i wont be buying a sram groupset, ill wait for shimano to come up with something the same but slightly different 😉

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    unklehomered – Member

    May be a vital bit, it seems unlikely Sram look to the 1970s agriculture industry for inspiration.

    Not as such but it’s reasonably likely someone says “How can we make a chain stay on better?” then checks old patents for inspiration/prior art. Not specifically farm machinery but “drivetrain” and “retention” or similiar.

    But either way, it’s still not their idea, it’s Joe Q Farminventor’s. And tbh half the things in the patent just feel like fluff to try and create differentiation- the X shape frinstance isn’t some exciting breakthrough, it’s just the right shape to go in the gap. And other bits, we’ve seen competitors don’t bother with and it still works.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    The devil is always in the detail…

    While you might not be able to patent a general engineering principle or concept already in the public domain, you can apply for a patent specific to an engineering application…

    SRAMs Patent opens with:

    This invention relates to chainrings, and more particularly, to a solitary chainring for use with a conventional chain in a bicycle drivetrain system including a bicycle crank.

    while the 1979 patent opens with:

    This invention relates generally to chain drives including sprockets and flexible chains employed therewith and, in particular, to the configuration and arrangement of the sprocket teeth.

    SRAM are hedging their bets to a certain extent by applying for a very specific patent covering only the design of a bicycle chainring, rather than a “General” concept for application to sprockets used in “Chain drives”…

    And skimming the two applications they are using a similar engineering principle for differing purposes, one is using it to improve chain retention on a bicycle, while the other is using it to accomodate missalignment of sprockets in agricultural machiinery…

    It’s contentious TBH and SRAM’s patent app may yet not be granted, or could only be granted within the US and not apply internationally, as I believe is the case wit hthe “Horst link” / “FSR”…

    I was always told (as an engineer at least) that patents are not there to completely exclude any possible competition, that they are there to give the patent holder a “head start”. To get their product to market first with a feature(s) that your competitors will have to spend more time and money to replicate, while engineering their way around the finer points of your patent, or they just approach you for a licencing agreement…

    There are some facinating annecdotes relating to this sort of thing, like the fella who invented, intermitent/variable windscreen wipers for cars, patented the concept, then took it for show and tell round all the big car companies only for them to turn down his idea. He then made a killing, when a few years later, the same feature popped up on various cars infringing his patent… dunno how true that one is but it’s a nice story…

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    Cheers Horatio, I knew I’d not imagined it…

    shimano had a clutch mech first, no matter how you build it up whether different internals are used or what ever, the principal is the same, they ripped off shimano’s clutch mech, its as plain and simple as that

    No, because internaly they are completely different (I’d go as far as saying the later, SRAM interpertation is better!).

    Shimano uses a normal spring and adds a one way friction clutch to it.

    SRAM presumably read the patent and figured a better idea was a massivelys tiff spring, and a lock to allow the mech to go slack.

    Fake example:
    company A patent asprin, company B develop paracetamol.

    You can’t patent ‘painkiller’, but you can patent a design for something that reduces pain, spurring others to come up with something better. You could actualy develop your copetitors product, then sell your inovation back to them (or licence theirs to enable you to sell it)!

    thisisnotaspoon – Member

    shimano had a clutch mech first, no matter how you build it up whether different internals are used or what ever, the principal is the same, they ripped off shimano’s clutch mech, its as plain and simple as that

    No, because internaly they are completely different (I’d go as far as saying the later, SRAM interpertation is better!).

    Shimano uses a normal spring and adds a one way friction clutch to it.

    SRAM presumably read the patent and figured a better idea was a massivelys tiff spring, and a lock to allow the mech to go slack.

    Fake example:
    company A patent asprin, company B develop paracetamol.

    You can’t patent ‘painkiller’, but you can patent a design for something that reduces pain, spurring others to come up with something better. You could actualy develop your copetitors product, then sell your inovation back to them (or licence theirs to enable you to sell it)!

    yah i know what your saying, but the initial idea obviously came from shimano! sram may have tweaked it and made it better/better internals or what ever, but the idea in principal is the same and SRAM have exploited that

    sram lets say have created this idea and are now not willing to let anyone else exploit it!

    shimano laid down and didnt kick up a fuss as far as im aware about sram ripping their clutch idea off

    shimano will do something better, they always do!

    theflatboy
    Member

    If SRAM had infringed Shimano’s patent, Shimano would have “kicked off”. This is the whole point of patents, as already mentioned above – it’s a bargain with the state that you have protection of the technology as defined by the patent in exchange for making your innovation public and allowing others to understand and build on its principles.

    In the clutch situation, Shimano still have protection for what was patented, it’s just SRAM came up with a different means to an arguably better end. But crucially, presumably, without infringing Shimano’s patent.

    what theflatboy said,

    Another less well known patent is shimano’s cassette, only shimano cassetts have the rings aligned perfectly so that if you do a multiple shift it does so smoothly, SRAM’s derails then re-engages. But look at some of the new SRAM road cassetts, they’ve got missing teeth to finaly get arround that patent.

    i know all that, im just saying though the ‘idea’ of the clutch mech was started from shimano, whether they patented it or not

    so if the chainring is patented by sram, hopefully shimano can do the same and rob the idea/tweak it with their version – lets face it they wont be far behind with something up the sleeves, which doesnt infringe the so called patent!

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Oscillate Wildly – Member

    i know all that, im just saying though the ‘idea’ of the clutch mech was started from shimano

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true… Or at least, SRAM certainly had something in development long before Shimano went public with the clutch.

    dragon
    Member

    I doubt SRAM were looking into agriculture patents, as that farm one linked on page 1 of the thread, was referenced in a later patent by Simplex, which in turn has since been referenced by both Shimano and Campag. Hence, it’s safe to say this info was pretty well known in the cycle industry already. So it’ll be interesting to see if SRAM can make the patent stick.

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