DW Link Sues Giant Bicycles, Claiming Patent Infringement & Breach of Contract
DW Link Incorporated, the company established by suspension designer Dave Weagle, is suing Giant Bicycle, Inc., and Giant Manufacturing Co., Ltd., for patent infringement and breach of contract. Here’s a summary of events that led to the suit, based on court documents:
Weagle’s patents for his DW Link suspension platform were filed in 2003/04 and granted throughout in 2006 and verified upon reexamination in 2007. In 2004, according to the documents filed in California courts, Weagle met with reps from Giant and discussed licensing his suspension design as well as creating a new platform called “G+ Technology”. In the meantime, Giant launched their Maestro suspension design in 2005, which allegedly used the DW Link design.
Immediately, DW Link sent notice to Giant that the Maestro suspension infringed on his patents, at which point the parties entered negotiations, but Giant held off on signing a licensing or development agreement until the reexamination by the USPTO concluded…
With Weagle’s designs confirmed patentable and protected, in 2009 and 2010 negotiations continued, ending with a Joint Development Agreement signed in November 2010. Weagle would help develop a new suspension platform for Giant, and Giant would pay a $600,000 upfront fee, fixed annual payments, developmental costs, and per-bike royalties, as well as a $400,000 fee upon completion of established goals. Giant reportedly paid the initial fee and some early payments, but eventually stopped making payments and reimbursing costs. In 2012, Weagle finished the project, but it was rejected. After months of discussion, Giant attempted to alter the established goals for the suspension, including “requirements which would violate the laws of physics.”
Ongoing letters between the parties showed Giant denying breaches of the JDA, but at no point during the almost six year saga have they reportedly denied infringing on the DW Link patents.
The images at the top of the post show Giant’s Maestro suspension on their prototype 650B bikes from Sea Otter (left, black) and Turner’s Czar, which licenses the design. DW Link is seeking damages for lost revenue and reasonable licensing fees, the amount of which could be determined by a jury in court.
This isn’t the first time Weagle has taken to the courts to defend his intellectual property. In 2012, he challenged Trek’s use of a concentric axle/link claiming it violated his Split Pivot patent.