DW Link Sues Giant Bicycles, Claiming Patent Infringement & Breach of Contract

dave-weagle-dw-link-sues-giant-for-patent-infringement

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.

 

Comments

Yoshi - 05/06/13 - 10:29am

“requirements which would violate the laws of physics.” How does this happen? Those Laws are set in stone – or something like that!

Steve M - 05/06/13 - 10:40am

Sounds like Giant is experiencing some buyers remorse?

Adam Ant - 05/06/13 - 11:02am

They should go to Shanghai, China & see the bike expo over there & talk about copyright infringement.

Gillis - 05/06/13 - 11:15am

Other than the way the shock is leveraged, how is this different from the Karpiel downhill bikes from the early 2000′s? Or is it just that he actually patented the idea?

Gumby - 05/06/13 - 11:48am

Snap shot= Giant wins; pat too general on it’s face; designs are separate and distinct

Matt - 05/06/13 - 12:00pm

That guy sues everyone.

Quickie - 05/06/13 - 12:00pm

Snap shot = Gumby’s statement is too general on it’s face; internet poster is pretending to be mechanical engineer and patent lawyer all in one post.

Steve M - 05/06/13 - 12:20pm

Niner has a lower link that goes under the BB instead over, functionally they are identical yet they have a patent. This is “distinct and separate?”

Out for a Ride - 05/06/13 - 12:37pm

DW Link is based on anti-squat curves and wheel travel forces, not linkage placement. The linkage placement is just incidental.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DW-link

dogbocks - 05/06/13 - 12:44pm

DW: technology through litigation

Padrote - 05/06/13 - 12:56pm

breaking news: dave weagle sues specialized for making bicycles with round wheels

patrik - 05/06/13 - 1:41pm

This is ridiculous. Giant is such a small up-and-coming company, and now this huge behemoth DW is going after that. What about the camaraderie of the bicycling community? Why can’t they have lunch and settle this the honorable way instead of hiring lawyers?

Oh wait, this isn’t Specialized related? Funny how it’s okay for small companies to sue big ones, but big ones have to stand on the sidelines as smaller ones do whatever the F they want (see Volagi).

Of course, I’m being sarcastic, but will anyone for the “giant” company?

Drew - 05/06/13 - 1:45pm

As “Out for a ride” commented: DW’s suspension technology is based on anti-squat curves and wheel travel forces. Unfortunately, it seems all to common for the big names to talk with a small company with superior designs and then steal the ideas. They have the deeper pockets to outspend them on the litigation side and hope to win by default. I how Dave Weagle gets the win on this and Kudos to him for defending his intellectual property! His suspension designs are superior to most and if someone is blatantly infringing on his ideas he should get damages for lost revenue and reasonable licensing fees.

David B. - 05/06/13 - 1:48pm

I bet Dave Weagle regrets ever talking to Giant. It sounds like they just shopped his technology and pretending they wanted to partner. In China, they don’t have a tradition of respecting intellectual property and this is another example of it. I take it as a lesson for a small guy with a patented idea – be very careful who you share and shop ideas with, even patented ones. Now, the 10,000 gorilla is trying to do their best to ignore and dismiss the idea the DW Link was first and patent protected.

As a biker, I have ridden both, like them the best of all designs and they feel the most similar to me (Meastro and DW Link). I know that is not the basis for a patent claim, but just saying.

randy - 05/06/13 - 2:44pm

They are WAY different…one is orange and one is black.

nenbran - 05/06/13 - 2:50pm

I’m with randy on this one.

JD - 05/06/13 - 2:58pm

GL DW, you developed a better product than the large companies could.

Jib's Mom - 05/06/13 - 3:40pm

I’ve owned both and they are really not comparable. The ride characteristics between the two designs are more than noticeable. I think that DW provided a really decent alternative to the FSR and older designs to some up-and-coming boutique brands, but IMO his design falls short to Giant’s application.
But, if Giant did ‘steal’ his design, then they need to nut up.

Mike - 05/06/13 - 5:33pm

Randy, it is the short link suspension that is patented and it is quite obvious that both frames use black linkage. Therefore Giant must have stolen DW’s design.

Bruce - 05/07/13 - 1:01am

“Jib’s Mon” said it best.

DeeEight - 05/07/13 - 2:06am

That the US patent office even ALLOWS patents on such common knowledge of suspension theory (anti-squat geometry is very OLD info to automobile suspension, especially dragsters) just because you put the word “bicycle” into the description is really at the heart of the problem. Dave didn’t patent a specific linkage design, he patented a description of a suspension behaviour that MANY designs could do.

Mike B - 05/07/13 - 2:25am

Giant, you had better pay Dave fast. That is infringement, no doubt. Dave is a very smart man, and this is pretty blatant of Giant to do this. You have to have lawsuits like this to keep people and companies from stealing patent property from people or companies or you will be no better than China.

Rouli - 05/07/13 - 4:17am

I guess the strength of Weagle patent is that the linkage should be “optimized” (read it! it’s true) to whatever purpose (antisquat mostly).
So Giant just has to claim it is not optimized in this way and it’s set.

Anyway dual linkage suspension are older than the patent so the patent should not be valid.

starlaFR - 05/07/13 - 5:31am

DeeEight got the point. In fact DW Link patent has been refused to apply in Europe, where apparently there is some competent people behind the desk when it comes to the content of the patent itself…

DeeEight - 05/07/13 - 11:35am

It wouldn’t pass a Canadian patent test of obviousness either. Technically US patent law is supposed to include that too, otherwise you’d have trolls squatting on patents for tablet pad sized computers and smart phones that have touch screens like that they saw on star trek in the 1980s…oh wait…

filibuster cash - 05/07/13 - 11:51am

dave weagle. . .designer of such awesome suspension, like the iron horse hollowpoint, where the front derailleur would dig into (not even simply rub on) the lower link. yes, let’s get behind that guy. he’s done so much for us.

Jim Rawson - 05/07/13 - 1:13pm

I am pretty sure that the Giant Maestro Suspension is patented. What does that say for Dave W?

They are both great designs. However I have rode both and think the Maestro stuff is better from small bumps all the way through big hits.

Chew - 05/07/13 - 3:14pm

I’m with the guy who said the dw and maestro bikes look like a karpiel design. If dw is based on “characteristics” and not pivot placement then that’s just silly. This whole patent thing for “intellectual property” has gotten way out of hand. What if I’m a rider and develop a new body position when turning and start winning races. Can I patent that body position? Maybe Gwinn should have patented his approach to racing and sue anyone who tries to copy him.

Jon - 05/07/13 - 4:53pm

If you neither understand anti squat, and wheel paths or do not have the technical knowledge to read and understand the different patents, its probably a better idea to see how this all plays out or ask an expert before commenting on the scruples of either of the parties involved in the litigation.
The difference between good and great suspension designs can often be minute or not measurable from the armchair engineer.

Chew - 05/07/13 - 6:02pm

“The difference between good and great suspension designs can often be minute or not measurable from the armchair engineer.”

How about the rider?

Steve M - 05/07/13 - 7:11pm

For some perspective on this issue and goofy granting of patents please go to DW’s split pivot webstite and download the .pdf of the patent. Towards the end are a series of decriptions that boggle the mind. It actually encompasses the use of a nuclear reactor as a source of power.

JB - 05/07/13 - 11:26pm

For those without IP experience, here’s what it comes down to – if you don’t protect your IP, all the money you put into the patent is worthless. A patent makes you no money – protecting your IP makes you money.

If Dave DOESN’T protect his IP, then he’ll have a much harder time protecting it in future lawsuits as well. If you allow infringing designs without some sort of agreement, you have a much harder time in court when you DO go after somebody. Especially in this case, where he approached Giant before their Maestro suspension came out, if he backs down then it basically opens up the Maestro design for anybody to copy, and point to the dropping of the other lawsuit as evidence that the design is non-infringing.

(FWIW, I have 1 approved patent and about 5 pending. Sadly, only as an inventor, not as the assignee, so I get jack squat for them!)

1gr8sailor - 05/07/13 - 11:42pm

VPP better than either anyway—-

JimmyZ - 05/10/13 - 3:39am

so if you develop an idea, to the point of it being optimized for a specific application, how can you make money off of it without the protection of a patent, when you start out alone, and some other company, possibly backed by another country’s government, has an infrastructure already in place that is optimized for the use of the ideas developed by others, for their own profit, with no benefit for the one who developed the idea in the first place? Why bother letting one’s idea see the light of day, then? Nobody says, “Those countries with cheap labor and no patent enforcement are leading our industry into the future.” They all say, “we need people to come up with the new technology to win.” If you want somebody else’s idea, you either take it where they can’t stop you, you pay them for it, or you come up with your own idea instead. If you have no idea of your own, you still have those other two options. I would hope that consumers recognize this, and choose accordingly.

Ol' Shel' - 05/12/13 - 11:22pm

Nobody remembers the Schwinn Rocket 88, version 2.

It was DW link, prior to DW link.

Ol' Shel' - 05/12/13 - 11:25pm

Link to DW prior to DW: http://imageshack.us/a/img170/3505/img0007la2.jpg

29only - 05/17/13 - 4:54am

Dave Weagle leave the lawyers alone.
Thanks

Andre Shoumatoff - 06/18/13 - 11:15am

The issue is DW Link just charged / wanted too much money. Giant agreed to it but in hindsight $1M to use his technology is just too much, and they should have shot straight about this. If you look at the Giant rear it is clearly a copy. I ride DW link – it is spectacular and I like how DW licenses and uses it and takes care of the little guy and the big guy alike. It seems like the problems are coming from the big guys. If / when negotiations break down then you have to defend yourself, your designs, and your patents. Props to DW for standing up for himself.

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