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  • Stanton Bicycles Facing German Copycat
  • stwhannah
    Full Member

    After a year in which his investor pulled out, triggering an Administration process, then buying back the company and restarting, you’d think Dan Stan …

    By stwhannah

    Get the full story here:

    Stanton Bicycles Facing German Copycat

    Oblongbob
    Full Member

    Buying the frames and selling them on is just business, I guess. But the brand appropriation seems be a real issue for Dan. Seems like he is getting proper TM legal advice and looking at options – this is the best thing here – he should make sure he goes to a proper trade mark attorney and not a lawyer who dabbles in IP. It’s a shame he only registered the TM in the UK – an EU or German registration would help massively here. Slightly surprised he only did it so recently when brand reputation is so important for a company like Stanton – getting TMs registered for key model names etc. might be a good idea. Copyright is much less likely to be useful and far harder to enforce. Not what he needs at the present time I’m sure. If Dan needs any recommendations for a good TM attorney do PM me (I’m a patent attorney, and know enough about TMs to know that this sounds complicated and he needs good advice).

    weeksy
    Full Member

    They’re not really a copycat though are they as that would be someone getting frames made the same as his… Whereas from what i can see these are frames that were made for Stanton and not purchased… Which is somewhat different than ‘copying’ someone.

    ampthill
    Full Member

    They are copying the Logo and branding

    What a total pain for Stanton. These things are a total money pit to sort out

    chakaping
    Free Member

    Worst stealth ad ever.

    Blackflag
    Free Member

    If this is just a one off batch then he may be best just letting this go and getting on with his resurrected company.

    ampthill
    Full Member

    The trouble is if they go well they can just re order

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Reputational risk. If the other sellers are shit then folk will think it’s Dan’s company, affecting his future sales.

    thepodge
    Free Member

    Looks to me like someone thought Stanton would go pop and wanted to make a quick bit of cash largely undetected.

    Copying frames (but not the brand) has been going on for years. Back in the early days someone was buying open mould frames and branding them as their own but turned out they were actually Orange bikes far eastern OEM frames. I think everyone denied any knowledge of the Orange connection & the new guys closed when they sold the last frame but for a while you could get an Orange Prestige for about half the price as long as you accepted a different downtube sticker & head badge.

    nickc
    Full Member

    Bloody hell, I feel sorry for Dan, what a ball ache.

    Oblongbob
    Full Member

    The fact they’ve filed for registered TMs for the Stanton brand suggests it’s much more than just a quick buck selling a few frames or a one off. Looks like they’re trying to take over the goodwill Dan has worked hard to build up.

    kelron
    Free Member

    Quote in the article suggested they’ve taken over the original contract with the supplier, or are claiming they have, and are planning to build more. Definitely seems underhanded if it’s not just buying the one unpaid shipment.

    mtbfix
    Full Member

    Regarding the requirement separately to satisfy trade mark rules in the EU, this feels like another Brexit gift

    dirkpitt74
    Full Member

    Would also be a pain if there’s a frame failure/warranty and they go to Dan to sort it out.

    Assume he has fame number list for all the bike he’s produced/purchased?

    Nightmare……

    robertajobb
    Full Member

    Yep. FHECKSIT as it should be called is a hole in the head that will keep on taking for, well, forever.

    I worked in a previously sucessful business that as a result of Fhecksit, had to duplicate registration and accreditation in an EU country with a real live office there.  Probably cost half a million quid to set up and another 50-100k in management time / cost each year to maintain the accreditations. Just to carry on doing what we had done for the previous couple of decades

     

    DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    Main question – are they cheaper to buy from Germany or here?

    StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    What a ballache.

     

    They don’t appear to be shipping to the UK. And a Ti-frame doesn’t save as much weight as I thought.

     

    Love my Stanton Sherpa. I’ll buy my next one (if I ever need to) from Dan.

    5lab
    Full Member

    it may be that the frames were bought un-branded, the buyer saw stanton in administration and took a cheeky punt at branding the frames assuming the non-existant company has no problem, and can sell them at a better price. Since stanton came out of administration, they’re now left with a whole bunch of frames with dodgy branding on that they hastily put a trademark application into to resolve? its all very messy though for sure

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    it may be that the frames were bought un-branded, the buyer saw stanton in administration and took a cheeky punt at branding the frames assuming the non-existant company has no problem, and can sell them at a better price. Since stanton came out of administration, they’re now left with a whole bunch of frames with dodgy branding on that they hastily put a trademark application into to resolve? its all very messy though for sure

    IINAL

    But during administration “Stanton” still existed, it just wasn’t run by Dan (+ others) anymore, and all the assets belong to the creditors rather than the shareholders. Once out of administration whatever was paid to the administrators (minus fees) for those assets is given to the creditors and the ‘new Stanton’ owns all the assets again. At no point in the process should someone have been able to just create another ‘new German Stanton’ using the IP, the IP was always owned by someone throughout the process. Although I guess buying up the frames was fair game.

    IINALagain, but wouldn’t there be some issue with using Dan’s name even without the Stanton bit? I couldn’t cheekily measure up a Soul frame, ping Taiwan an e-mail, get it built from the same 631/725/853 tubeset*, and then say “designed by Cy @ Cotic” even if I did come up with all new branding?

    *assuming it’ not custom tubing, in which case add in, cut frame in half, measure butting profiles, etc

    Oblongbob
    Full Member

    <p>Trouble is there wasn’t a lot of IP for anyone to own as Stanton only had one UK trade mark registration. Unregistered IP (copyright and ‘passing off’ in this case) are bloody hard to enforce. </p>

    moimoifan
    Free Member

    I think the wide-boy German dudes are taking a bet against Dan pursuing this as it will be risky – he could end up spending a load of money and losing. Sadly, this may be an unforseen and (another) unwanted result of the administration. The best outcome would probably be to take this one on the chin, hope they sell – but slowly – and there are no issues with them. Then it is unlikely that Diederich Trötter will re-order and double down on the rip-off branding.

    Whatever the outcome, it is a shitty stunt to pull. Sure, snap up some cut price frames like On One did, but to plagiarise the branding like that is out of order.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    Reposted to Steel is Real, end of the day if people buy these in good faith and then have warranty issues they could be losing out.

    Also pretty shitty reponse by Bike24.

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    The brand’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/1bike4life_official/ has the Stantons in a post from 25 May, and they also have https://www.instagram.com/stantonbikes_official/

    23 frames in stock at Bike24 across all models and sizes, I wonder how many in total (so far).

    Perhaps Pinkbike and Bike Magazin.de would be interested?

    There is something akin to precedent: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/beware-fake-dmr-websites.html

    There are no reviews on them at Bike24, yet… https://www.bike24.com/search-result/category-Components%20%3E%20Frames?searchTerm=stanton

    BigJohn
    Full Member

    This is what happens in business. Limited company; goes pop, suppliers lose money, original owners have no more rights than anybody else to pick up and carry on.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    What? They absolutely do have the right to their IP, that doesn’t cease to exist as was explained further up the page.

    batfink
    Free Member

    Yeahhhh – it’s one thing buying up unwanted stock after bankruptcy and selling it on, another to brand those bikes as “Stanton”, another still to do so after the company comes out of administration and starts trading again.

    But the worse offence (to me) seems to be the attempt to somehow “steal” the whole brand wholesale – registering the name, working with the same factory, copy/pasting all the marketing guff from the website, and appropriating the brands history/ethos.  They have basically lifted up the brand and moved it to Germany under a different owner – whist presenting themselves as the same company.

    A total dick-move from Bike24.  Regardless of the technicalities/legalities – it’s very clear to see what’s happened here, and very disappointing that they are cool with it.

    Will be interesting to hear about it from the manufacturers perspective also.  One sympathizes with them for selling-on the original batch of frames – I can also partially forgive them for branding them as Stanton, if the company had gone into administration, I can see how they might think that was ok/zero risk.

    However, I hope that Dan is prioritizing discussions with them to make sure that they aren’t going to be making any more batches of frames for this “copycat” company to his original designs.  I assume that there are some restrictions in place to ensure that a company making frames to your design can’t then just start selling those same frames (either branded or unbranded) to a different bike company?

    That’s the difference between this being a one-off batch that is a fly in the proverbial ointment, to an ongoing issue to his continuing business.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    Looks like an opportunity to buy up to 23 cheap Stantons if you happen to live in Europe.  I guess you could also buy them if you lived in the UK but by the time you’ve paid import tax I’d imagine it would be just as cheap to buy from Dan.

    It looks like this company is focused entirely on the German market (as far as I can tell Bike24 won’t ship these frames to the UK) and I doubt Stanton will have to deal with any warranty issues directly. And I’d imagine once this shipment is gone it will be gone.

    If I were Dan Stanton I’d file it under ‘worth keeping an eye on’ and get on with my life.

    idenry
    Free Member

    I always find it curious that a lot of people seem to use the phrase ‘it’s business’ in place of the phrase ‘it’s ok to be greedy, selfish and immoral’. Like ‘business’ is an alternative reality where the rules of civilised society don’t apply.

    It isn’t (it’s ok, I’ve spent 30 years working with everything from vast global entities to one-man bands so I’m not some naive dreamer here).

    It’s not the 90s anymore people.

    Aside from the tedious legal side of this, how about we make it much simpler – is it moral?

    No, obviously it isn’t.

    Obviously it isn’t ok to take advantage of over ten years of an individual’s blood, sweat and tears building not only a business but something that has enriched a culture like mountain biking. A person who has a young family to support and employees who rely on them.

    One of the most powerful emotions is embarrassment. If the mtb world simply bombarded all the businesses associated with 1Bike4Life (what a rubbish name btw) and Bike24 (who have a brand to protect and can’t hide as easily) with some home truths – some shame – it would probably have a bigger, certainly quicker, effect than the legal route.
    Leave a review, make a comment on social, message the CEO of Bike24 on LinkedIn (yep he’s on there). They won’t like that at all.

    jimthesaint
    Free Member

    Stanton (Dan’s real one) obviously needs to now protect it’s IP to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

    Interestingly though with Stanton not having the trademarks registered in important territories such as the US and Germany it lowers the value of the IP of the Stanton brand and makes it more difficult to sell on as an IP package. There’s a chance that Dan was able to buy the brand back from the administrator because they couldn’t sell the IP to a Wiggle/CRC, PlanetX, Bike24, etc.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    @BruceWee 1bike4life have tried to register the name in the EU and USA, that doesn’t sound like either a one off or someone intending on holding it to ransom (see also domain squatting).

    Looking at their Instagram there doesn’t seem to be much to suggest they’re not just after a payday for little effort one way or another.

    wbo
    Free Member

    Re. this – ‘I assume that there are some restrictions in place to ensure that a company making frames to your design can’t then just start selling those same frames (either branded or unbranded) to a different bike company?’

    I would assume not, outside the contract.  And to be honest, if someone has ordered a bunch of frames, then can’t pay (temporarily in this case) then they’re going to be resold to someone else, as has happened. Whether or not more gets paid is rather down to how the people do the making view the state of their contract and relationship with new Stanton, and balance that with how another run of frames  look as a commercial venture independent of that.

    Some pretty loose interpretations of the relationship to Stanton on that German site tho’

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    From the 1bike4life website

    The frames are now welded in the same manufactory and with the same manufacturing standards as our high-end falconry titanium and racing steel frames. This enables us to incorporate our proven quality control into this brand as well.

    That looks like the frame manufacturer was already dealing with this company. I guess there was a pretty easy deal there.

    dangeourbrain
    Free Member

    I wonder what the administrator sold off and to whom? Is it possible they’ve sold the rights to eg the old branding in Europe to someone separately from selling the resurrected bits back to Dan?
    Or, assuming that [old] Stanton owned the designs if they maybe sold to or otherwise leveraged the rights to those with the fabricator in return for future goodwill and continuing manufacture for [new] Stanton in order to keep the business saleable?

    stwhannah
    Full Member

    I wonder what the administrator sold off and to whom? Is it possible they’ve sold the rights to eg the old branding in Europe to someone separately from selling the resurrected bits back to Dan?

    Dan showed me docs that seem to confirm he bought all the IP.

    dangeourbrain
    Free Member

    Dan showed me docs that seem to confirm he bought all the IP.

    Fair do – though if he’s only just applying for trade marks that would beg the question (to my completely inexpert mind at least) of what the ip actually was?

    It does sound like he’s getting the rough end of it in any case, legitimately or otherwise.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    Thinking a bit more about it, could this simply have been a case of 1bike4life doing their manufacturer a favour?

    Let’s not forget that when Stanton went into administration some businesses and people lost out.  In the case of the manufacturer, they were stuck with a batch of frames that were only partially paid for.

    As others have said, a lot of the value of a frame comes from the branding and reputation.  It must make it incredibly difficult to recover the ‘value’ in any sale.

    If this manufacturer happened to also make frames for someone like Planet X then it would be easy for them to pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, do you fancy this batch?’ Planet X would then give it a zany name and the market for the frames would already be there because On One is already a recognised name in mountain biking.

    If this particular manufacturer couldn’t find any buyers then what do you do?  If it was me I would call in a favour from one of my roadie brand customers.

    What is this roadie brand supposed to do with a batch of mountain bike frames.  Do they create an entirely new brand for themselves or do they just say, ‘Well, they’re dead and buried and they didn’t even bother registering their trademark in Europe so let’s sell these frames in our country where no one has ever heard of them anyway.  Just copy and paste their marketing and run it through google translate.’

    I think everyone was very surprised when Stanton was resurrected.  If they had stayed dead this batch of frames probably would have been sold and no one would have even noticed.

    I think there is a very interesting story here about what happens to the scraps left over when a brand goes bust.

    From a legal point of view, Stanton are 100% the victims.  However, from a moral point of view, Stanton went bust and left a mess for others to clean up as best they could.  I think it’s probably a bit more shades of grey rather than the black and white this article presents.

    dissonance
    Full Member

    Planet X would then give it a zany name and the market for the frames would already be there because On One is already a recognised name in mountain biking.

    Aside from they didnt just give it a zany name. They made sure people knew what the frames really were.
    I dont see why this company couldnt have done the same trick with their own brand.
    After all if no one has heard of them whats the value of Stanton there? Best to go with their own brand (nick the advertising sure..).

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    I dont see why this company couldnt have done the same trick with their own brand.

    I think part of the issue is that most of the value of these frames is in the brand.

    Looking at 1bike4life, they have no other mountain bikes.  There isn’t an existing brand to attach these frames to like Planet X were able to do with Hello Dave.

    This is what makes me think it was done as a favour to their manufacturer rather than as a devious money making plot.

    I could be wrong, I have no insider information.  Like I said, I feel like there is an interesting story here that STW hasn’t fully investigated.  It doesn’t feel like the original manufacturer, 1bike4life, or Bike24 were really given a proper chance to come clean.  It seems like they were asked for a comment rather than interviewed with a view to getting the full story of the pressures they were/are under and what they were thinking.

    It honestly feels like the only people whose side of the story we got were Stanton’s.  And let’s not forget, it was Stanton who left the manufacturer with a pile of frames and limited options to shift them, especially in the current climate.  Not intentionally, of course, but Stanton is back from the dead and the manufacturers were still left out of pocket.

    idenry
    Free Member

    I come in peace mate but a couple of things – Stanton have quite a strong following in Germany, they’re definitely known. And they didn’t go bust.

    This Andreas Kirschner character clearly gambled on that happening. It didn’t and now he’s doubling down on his position presumably because he’s sunk a lot of money and time into the stock and cloning the brand. Hopefully this story going public is giving him the sleepless nights he deserves.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    I come in peace mate but a couple of things – Stanton have quite a strong following in Germany that’s not a thing. And they didn’t go bust.

    This Andreas Kirschner character clearly gambled on that happening. It didn’t and now he’s doubling down on his position presumably because he’s sunk a lot of money and time into the stock and cloning the brand.

    Well, maybe they didn’t go bust, but surely I wasn’t the only one who was very surprised to see Stanton back up and running in a version almost indistinguishable from it’s previous form?

    I’ll bow to your greater knowledge of the German market.

    However, I’d be interested to know how much money was sunk in cloning the brand.  Surely cloning is the cheap option?  If it was a lot of money and the plan was to use the Stanton frames to kickstart 1bike4life’s foray into mountain biking then wouldn’t that money be better spent creating a new brand?

    This just smacks of being the absolute cheapest and easiest way to shift a bunch of frames that no one really wanted in the first place.  To me, at least.

    Like I said though, I could be completely wrong.  And as I’m not an mtb journalist I’m not really in a position to find out what the actual story is.

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