Canyon and Cervélo Settle Seat Tube Patent Dispute

Cervélo's R3 frame on the left, and Canyon's "Maximus" seat tube on the right. Quite similar, no?

The battle has been raging for a while now; Canyon bikes sued Cervélo back in November over what they say is a patent infringement regarding their Maximus seat tube design, a tapering tube shape that thickens and elongates as it approaches to bottom bracket junction. The suit started with a ruling in Germany in September, and continued with a November hearing by the European Patent Office. The dispute has now been settled – see who came out on top after the break.

Both sides announced a mutual settlement out of court today, issuing a brief joint statement in which both companies seemed happy with the outcome. Most details of the deal are being kept confidential, but we do know that Cervélo will continue to manufacture the disputed frames (RS, R3, and R3 SL)  as is, and Canyon will be allowed to use some of Cervélo’s other patents.

“We’re happy this matter is resolved, that’s good news for both companies and for consumers,” said Gerard Vroomen, co-founder of Cervélo.

Roman Arnold, who heads up the Canyon brand, also praised the agreement. “After the long lasting lawsuit both sides can once again concentrate on what they can do best: build high class, innovative and trendsetting bicycles,” he said.

Cervélo had argued that the design was a result of widely held industry knowledge, and that Canyon’s patent had simply cashed in on information that everyone already knew, thus making the patent invalid. Canyon, however, believed that the design was proprietary to their frames, with Arnold saying back in November, ““Five years ago we made a contribution to the technical progress of bicycles with the Canyon Maximus Seat-tube. Now we are seeking protection of our invention.”

And so the dispute ends. While we don’t know which Cervélo patents Canyon will be entitled to, we’ll be keeping a close eye on future Canyon/Cervelo builds for any similarities.

What do you think? Was Cervélo stealing ideas or did Canyon just patent the obvious? Let us know in the comments section below!

Comments

michael - 01/14/11 - 12:02pm

How can they patent a tapered tube?
Litespeed has been making seat tubes like that since 2005.

Kovas - 01/14/11 - 12:13pm

Fighting over seat tubes…. is it just me, or does that just sound supremely lame? Who buys a bike based on a seat-tube anyway? That’s like buying a fork based on the steer-tube.

All that money dished-out to lawyers and frivolous “settling costs” could have been better spent on R&D and improved manufacturing.

Legal fees. Finally we know why Canyons, Cervelos, Specializeds… cost so damn much.

Craig - 01/14/11 - 9:58pm

I don’t know the specifics of the dispute, but a quick google found me this Tapered seat tube from the 1960s.

Spencer - 01/14/11 - 10:47pm

Kovas, you don’t have a clue about how the patent system works or why companies protect their IP.

Triathlon Bike - 01/14/11 - 11:14pm

A seat tube that just changes shape is not the point of the patent, it’s round-to-square from top to bottom that was patented. It is never easy to copy innovations.

Daniel - 01/14/11 - 11:19pm

Canyon clearly patented the obvious.

Engineer 1: How do you shield the rear wheel of the bike from wind?
Engineer 2: Well you put something in front of it.
Engineer 1: The seat tube is already there and lots of bikes have sculpted seat tubes that act as fairings.
Engineer 2: What if we just make the seat tube wider so it shields the rear wheel better?
Engineer 1: Dude! You are a genius! You should patent that, bro.
Engineer 2: Hi, is this the firm specializing in patent law?
Lawyer: Why yes it is.
Engineer 2: I want to patent a wide seat tube on a bike that doubles as an aerodynamic faring.
Lawyer: (thinks: Cha Ching! I’ll get this guy coming and going. He’ll pay me to make an unenforceably obvious patent, then pay me again to sue the guy who realizes its unenforceable and infringes on it.) Yes sir, I can do that for you. Let me have you talk with our manager of accounts receivable.

KGr - 01/15/11 - 4:19am

If Cervelo truly believed it was an indefensible patent, they could have challenged it in a reexamination procedure without cross-licensing away a chunk of their own technology.

Jason - 01/15/11 - 1:33pm

If this is Canyon’s (ridiculous) strategy, they’ll be suing every reputable bike maker. Trek’s 2011’s now have tapered seat tubes. I guess they’re next.

Give me a break.

As for why Cervelo would attempt to settle even if they’re not at fault .. not too hard to figure out. Settlement discussions are often preferable to protracted disputes (in multiple countries).

JP - 01/15/11 - 2:14pm

I agree with KGr. Will we see future Canyon road bikes with the Soloist aero down tube? Cervelo loses.

JG11 - 01/15/11 - 3:17pm

@kovas
I agree that they shouldn’t fight over a seat tube but canyon bikes are very cheap for their equipment levels because of their direct sales (i’m not from canyon).

Dave-O - 01/16/11 - 5:58pm

My old steel Basso Ascot had a tapered seat tube too.

James Katz - 01/16/11 - 10:43pm

If only the dead inventors / designers from the 18th / 19th century can arise from their coffins they should also sue Canyon Bicycles and all of the modern day bicycle manufacturers for adopting the seat tube and whatever tubes and wheels (round shape ) to make a bicycle rolls . Look carefully and you will notice everyone copy each other. Embarrassing. So what’s new ?

BB - 01/20/11 - 4:02am

If noe knew anything about the sqoval shape that Cervelo has, then they do not seem so similar. As i know the problem was the flat side for the FD and that is not the most important feature of the Cervelo tube. And the tube is no more in that configuration as the new bikes do not start out with a round tube. Maybe we will see Canyons with BB right?

KGr - 01/20/11 - 8:44am

@James Katz
Those zombie inventors wouldn’t have a case at all. A valid patent gives you an exclusive right for merely 20 years, and then after that the whole world has permission to copy as much as they like.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.