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Bicycle Retailer is reporting that a U.S. District Court judge has ruled that Trek Bicycles' ABP (Active Braking Pivot) design does not infringe on Dave Weagle's patented Split Pivot design.

Weagle filed the lawsuit against Trek in September 2012. Weagle was granted a Split Pivot Patent in May of 2010 while Trek was granted a patent for their ABP design in November 2010. Both designs appear similar in that they a concentric pivot around the rear axle which connects the chainstay and seatstay. The judge's ruling was based on differing leverage ratios and shock technology used in each suspension design. Weagle plans to appeal.

Read the complete article on Bicycle Retailer.

DW's Split Pivot Design, Patent #'s 7,717,212 and 8,002,301

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Trek's ABP Design, Patent # 7,837,213

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sspomer sspomer 12/16/2013 3:58 PM

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Oh, by the way, I recommend reading @Varaxis comments on the particular patents below. Its as good an effort as I have seen to survey this tricky (and sometimes nearly impenetrable) territory.

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I agree with some of the sentiments expressed by @prestondh. Concentric pivots (not a new idea) at the rear axle dropouts of a bike (also not a new idea) should not be patentable. However, the known history of DW's dealings with Trek prior to the APB patent being filed is really much more in line with DW's presentation of the facts. It is very unlikely that the inspiration to the creation of APB came from anywhere else than DW's presentation of the concept and the design to Trek when he tried to sell his design services to them, well before APB existed.

There are some aspects of the judge's findings that are troubling. The emphasis on shocks and leverage rates makes it clear that the judge is not ruling against the existence of some kind of notion of special usage rights that attach to concentric drop out pivots at the rear axle. So, for example, to build a bike with a split pivot that has a similar LR curve to DW's own bike designs would be infringing. A better result, in my view, would have been a restriction of the patent to very particular mechanical features of the dropouts. That would mean that design approaches could be freed up and people could stop losing sleep over who is going to sue them next.

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Anyone with half a legal brain should have seen this coming. Unless DW's camp of engineers and lawyers are completely moronic, they should have know they can not patent a concentric pivot design and knowing that, they should have known that treks leverage ratios suspension layout is entirely different outside of using a concentric pivot. Hell that would be like (insert bike company here) trying to patent the bicycle wheel with an axle in the center in their frames for that matter.
Waste of time and money, although the only reason I could see that they did file a suit in something like this is that 2 months after DW patented his design, Trek patented a design with a similar feature. But knowing how much R&D and time goes into creating something at a company the magnitude of Trek, I really doubt they "stole" DW's idea, it is more likely that DW stole Trek's idea and made some changes and patented it quickly. Not saying at all that is what happened but considering the magnitude of Trek and employees working there, I am sure their new ABP design at that time had already slipped out into the market place.

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personally i feel this is a waste for dw. he is probably one of the greatest minds in the bike industry and can see abp really doesnt violate sp patents. inspireded by maybe but that is a different can of worms. plus how does he think he can go up against a giant like trek?

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One of the greatest MARKETING minds maybe. Pretending he's some genius engineer is ridiculous.

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leverage ratios and shock technology have nothing to do with this part of the design of the bike, as far as patents go atleast...

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Actually with regards to the patents being discussed and contested, the differences are all related to the shock mounting, shock technology, leverage ratios and pivot ratios. Neither side is claiming to own the concept of a concentric axle pivot. That concept was first described 100 years ago. All the patents describe an implementation of that pivot with different types of shock and shock mounting linkage arrangements. Titling an article as a contest between the ABP and Split Pivot doesn't help clarify things. It is really a contest between the full floater linkage Trek has and the Shock linkages described in the claims of the split pivot patents.

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How is that not patent infringement? The judge said that ABP and SP use "differing leverage rates and shock technology."

If leverage rates and shock technology are the differentiating factors between pivot designs in patent disputes, then how on earth did Specialized defend FSR for 17 years? Obviously "leverage rates and shock tech" are not the only differentiating factors, or even significant factors. Pivot placement is pivot placement.

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I just googled the patents to try and make sense of it too. The way I understand it:

The Horst Link itself isn't patented, and the concentric pivot itself isn't patented. It's the suspension system, which include those elements, that are patented. I believe Spec needed about 3 different FSR patents to basically monopolize that linkage design, some of which may have expired. DW has 2 and Trek has 1 in this case.

Trek has a patent for a single pivot design in which the chainstay has a concentric pivot/axle on one end while the other end creates a floating shock setup, with the other end of the shock connected to a rocker arm. The patent specifies that the rear wheel's contact patch can alter by 0-7 degrees through full travel.

DW has a patent for a design that has concentric pivot that aims for a detailed instant force center pattern. One pattern described the instant force center being forward of and under the shock, which moves lower to the ground and rearward on compression. He also has a patent that includes a floating shock design, but with a specific leverage ratio curve that has a positive slope in the first 33% of stroke, which then transitions to a negative slope in the last 33%.

The judge looked at the accusation, looked at all the models that Trek had and what Trek's patent granted them, and had to go into rather specific and in-depth detail to come to a ruling. DW seems to have detailed a high pivot design, while Trek seems to have detailed a low pivot design. All Trek's ABP designs seem to have leverage ratio curves with negative slopes throughout the travel, even the newer Superfly. The older '11 one would've infringed though--perhaps the old Rumblefish and Superfly that were brought straight over from GF are the ones DW could win something against, based on leverage ratio curve, but the instant center is behind the shock on those.

When you're successful, and can't think of anything better that could get you on top of the game and beat the competition, this (file lawsuits) is what you do, I guess. I wonder if an increase in the number of haters is to be expected. Business and law these days.... whatever happened to integrity, morals, sportsmanship, remorse, etc. This just seems to lead to more nerdy arguments and perhaps stricter laws. F the day when this gets to the point where people are stuck spending more time researching laws, to ensure they're not violating any, and arguing personal perspectives over them, if what they're planning might be a violation, than time spent actually doing or creating something.

P.S. Orbea said that they carefully looked at patents and said they're not in violation. Orbea uses a low single pivot that doesn't have a floating shock nor an instant force center that is forward of the shock. Their new Rallon doesn't have a Split Pivot-like leverage curve, but their Occam does.

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