Dave Weagle Sues Giant for Patent Infringement 42

It's no secret that Giant's Maestro suspension system looks very similar to the DW-Link (notably of Iron Horse Sunday fame) developed by Dave Weagle. Weagle, after having apparently extensively negotiated with Giant regarding potential licensing of his technology, and even entering a Joint Development Agreement to create a new version of the Maestro platform together with Giant, has now filed a lawsuit against Giant (both Giant Taiwan and its wholly owned subsidiary Giant USA) for patent infringement as well as for breaking the terms of the aforementioned JDA.

DW Link vs Giant Glory

Consulting the text of the lawsuit (the full version is available HERE, if you have trouble falling asleep at night), it appears that Weagle is making a case for infringement of several patents, following him showing early prototypes of his work to Giant representatives in 2004. The text also describes how Giant and Weagle subsequently negotiated a Joint Development Agreement for the creation of a "G+" suspension system for Giant, an agreement which Weagle now claims Giant have failed to honor.

Looking at the drawings and the patent text, it's hard to see how this trial could be anything but a foregone conclusion, but as we all know, things are rarely that straightforward in the judicial system. We'll just have to wait and see - stay tuned!


Update: In a letter sent to retailers in early May, Giant responded to the lawsuit, vowing to defend against the patent infringement allegations. The text of that letter is below.

GIANT'S RESPONSE TO DW-LINK LAWSUIT

To our valued Giant retailers,

Earlier this week, several consumer cycling Web sites reported on the patent infringement litigation between dw-link/Dave Weagle and Giant involving the Maestro Suspension design. Below is Giant’s official response to this matter:

Giant vigorously disputes and intends to aggressively defend against the patent infringement allegations contained in the lawsuit recently filed by dw- link. Maestro Suspension is a Giant proprietary design, and our retailers can continue to sell Maestro-equipped mountain bikes with confidence.

Giant will continue to focus on developing world-leading technologies to help you grow your business and provide a superior cycling experience for riders worldwide.

We greatly appreciate your support and business.

-- GIANT RETAILER SUPPORT

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42 comments
  • ChrisG

    8/5/2013 7:14 AM

    My sympathies are with Giant. If you read the DW-link patents you will notice that they convey the sense that any dual short link suspension linkage can be seen as a DW-link if the anti-squat curve is similarly DW-link like. I would say they are written with an eye to litigation. It don't think it is fair use of a patent that it should cover implementations that the patent holder does not use and will never use.

    There is very little about Giant's linkage that is similar to the canonical DW-link. DW should be happy just having a better suspension design and stop playing litigious games.

  • Headshot

    5/15/2013 1:49 AM

    Giant's response is typical "start of litigation" speak and their's and probably DW's tune will change as this matter develops. I wonder why Giant has been involved in JV's and negotiations around patents rights with DW if their system is not infirnging his design? Its also in DW's interest for Giant to carry on selling Maestro bikes because he can get royalty damages from them for every one sold I would think.

  • bturman

    5/13/2013 4:38 PM

    Updated with a brief letter from Giant to their retailers concerning the dispute.

  • cameron.hoefer

    5/7/2013 3:54 PM

    I've heard rumors that DW has the power of Toyota behind him from a legal standpoint...

  • steven.christiansen.54

    5/7/2013 5:01 AM

    patening and "previous artwork" (someone else invention), and "obviousness to people skilled in the trade"is, at best a tricky thing for us normal folk to figure out. Here is an example i gave to an automotive friend of mine. lets say you invented that "Creeper" to wheel yourself under vehicles on your back and do certain automotive repair tasks; and submit it to get a patent. Then lets say the patent comes back rejected for "previous artwork". You then have the right to see what the "previous artwork" is that is blocking your "creeper" invention from going forward. Then you find out it is a Skateboard that is considered previous artwork that is blocking your "creeper" invention. Their reasoning to you would be to the extent that your "creeper" is basically a larger skateboard with 4 wheels and a pad at one end to rest your head. Yes this sounds ludicrous, because it is; and this is something i am going through now. My point is that the whole patent process is not as obvious as you would think. As we all know with mtn bikes; these bikes are full of 1-3 degree tweaks here and there and 2-5mm there and so on that make a bike a totally different ride quality.

  • Headshot

    5/7/2013 3:25 AM

    DW is opening himself up to his patent being declared invalid. Just because he holds a patent doesn't mean it will stand up to rigorous scrutiny and if he has merely patented a pre-existing invention (prior art) or somethong very similar or its found his invention was obvious , he could lose the case on the patent issue.

  • general lee

    5/7/2013 7:31 AM

  • b-kul

    5/6/2013 3:16 PM

    im rooting for dw but against the likes of trek and giant and the lawyers they will bring to the table I'm not hopeful.

  • steven.christiansen.54

    5/6/2013 8:56 AM

    Under the patent rules of whats considered "Previous Artwork"; i am surprised anything with a 4 bar linkage can pass the patent process. I went through, (and am still going through) hoops for my little simple invention over "previous artwork" that doesnt work the same or isnt physically/ornamentaly the same as mine. you have 2 main types of patents; Utility patents are generally about how things work; and Design patents deal with whats considered ornamental or how things look different than from whats already out there.

  • ahleich

    5/6/2013 6:49 AM

    I seem to remember way back seeing a glory prototype in MBA, that was apparently too similar to the sunday for production. So the glory took on the foreword shock mount. Then the year after ironhorse went under the glory changed to the current installment without IH in the picture

  • taletotell

    5/6/2013 6:09 AM

    End all patents and copyrights after five years with no renewal. Sorry Dave, but biking would be better if everyone could use technologies to make better gear.

  • voodoobike

    7/26/2013 9:30 AM

    This all assumes the USPTO (US Patent Office) actually reviews applications for prior artwork and all that. They don't. There are MANY patents that overlap and have the same elements are others. The entire process is a mess. And then it's all about litigation. To say this makes for better competition in the marketplace is complete hogwash. It has nothing to do with that. Patents only protect large corporations with the resources to legally protect their patents. It's all about profit.

  • general lee

    5/6/2013 7:44 AM

    Copying actually stifles innovation in the long run, and in your proposed model shifts the balance of power to those already at the top (Giant, Trek, Specialized, etc... anyone with the capacity to copy and produce on a large scale at low cost and with substantial marketing force). Dave did not use any technology that isn't available to anyone else, but he did use that technology in a new and unique way at the time. The rest is just shrude business. The bike industry is a capitalist enterprise, not an open source bro fest. For those of you newer to the scene it might not be as obvious but some of what DW brought to DH was at the time a big step forward. Though not related to this dispute, the original e13 chainguide was a game changer in every way. You just don't come up with something like that in any industry and just give it away for free.

  • Chuck Norris

    5/6/2013 8:54 AM

    I want to high-five the above statement for its thorough understanding of Economics, Engineering, Manufacturing, Design, and the DH market segment. Well said Lee. =)

  • taletotell

    5/6/2013 11:34 AM

    Patents are good in that they protect innovators, and five years of protection gives them time to profit. Once the patents expire new innovation can built on top of the original innovation without driving up costs. When I have to pay thirty people to use something they invented 20+ years ago before I can innovate then i will not even try. The only guys that can afford to try will be the big boys who have millions to spend. it reduces competition and therefore stifles innovation. Want an example: the electronics industry. That iphone would be $50 and be competing against 1000 products that were just as good, instead of a half dozen who compete for the other half of the market share that apple doesn't control.
    Looking at bikes, there are a few huge players who own the majority of the patents and the rest of the companies get to kneel at their feet. Everyone asks does it have sram of shimano kit. Why? Because they own the patents. Race face has to charge more to do anything because they have to pay shimano or sram first for something engineers at those companies came up with forever ago.
    I am a fan of Shakespeare, and his works were blatant rip offs of the Lays of Marie de France and other medieval folk tales, but he used their works and built them into something incredible that cannot be bested hundreds of years later, though everyone is free to try! EVERYONE! Talent stands on its own without big brother protecting it.
    5 years. if you can't capitalize on your patent by then you don't have anything worth patenting.
    Yes, I feel strongly about this. The thermal bread refreshener patent wouldn't exist if the stupid toaster patent would just die.

  • steven.christiansen.54

    5/7/2013 5:12 AM

    yeah being a little guy going up against any of the big guys is scary at best. They have the cash to drag things out and small guys dont. its what can cause a guy to almost need to go on a show like Shark Tank and give away 30-60% (at best) of their invention just so they can have a big hand to assist them in fighting the big guys.

  • steven.christiansen.54

    5/6/2013 5:42 AM

    Patent thieving just plain scares the piss out of me. i have an invention in patent pending status (nothing with bikes) and almost have nightmares over it being stolen from me. i will be interested to see how this one here pans out.

  • Headshot

    5/6/2013 5:20 AM

    Had a quick scan of the complaint - its quite strange - seems as if Giant have paid Mr Weagle a lot of money for the new suspension system but aren't happy with the results. DW was happy to take their money for the G+ and ignore the alleged infringement but now, after the G+ isn't working out, has sued for past infringement and breach of the JDA for G+. Will be interesting to read the answering papers from Giant. I can't quite fathom why DW has waited so long to sue - its been years of negotiations - perhaps now, he has a better chance of clearing significant damages because Giant have done so well with Maestro... If so, its a clever move.

  • Leonardo Gaggioli

    5/6/2013 3:00 AM

    Giant isn't new for taking others designs, the bikes they made before adopting the maestro were copying ancillotti's http://www.ancillotti.com/ pullshock design, and also in that case they lost the law suit.

  • deanopatoni

    5/5/2013 11:06 PM

    Looking at the sketch - there appears to be yet another 'wheel diameter standard' applied. I predict that the 'slightly off circular, with a bit of a bump' 292627.7B standard will be the norm in 5 years (at least for front wheels as drawn)..

  • general lee

    5/5/2013 11:23 PM

    You're looking at it wrong. it's actually a cylindrical rear wheel. Perfect for grooming your pump track or casing the sh*t out of some else's jumps.

  • Uncle Cliffy

    5/5/2013 6:56 PM

    The lawsuit is an interesting read. Especially the timeline of events. Comparing the 2 designs (Maestro and DW link) I think most of us would agree they don't feel exactly alike. As much as I love the way Maestro rides, it seems like Dave is in the right to get what he wants.

    Some good reading here: http://www.ridemonkey.com/forums/f19/proper-pics-giant-glory-09-a-206317/

  • unskilled

    5/5/2013 6:30 PM

    How'd that ABP lawsuit go?

  • Rl

    5/5/2013 6:25 PM

    I have friends that have been screwed over patents. I hope DW has enough money to actually go through with the lawsuit. Where do you draw the line with design though. Remember, Gene Simmons owns the copyrights to happy Birth Day to You. Maybe DW has the patent to using two wheels on a mountain bike?

  • enrico650

    5/5/2013 5:49 PM

    Rumor is Giant is going with another suspension design for the future.

  • Adam_Schaeffer

    5/5/2013 5:09 PM

    Git 'em Dave, you deserve some compensation because you did it right. You played by the rules. You went to school forever, worked for the gov't, finally got to do what you love, created bikes that tens of thousands of riders absolutely love and went through the proper channels to patent and protect the intellectual property that you used a lifetime of experience developing. He NEEDS to win, not just for him, because I'm sure he's doing ok with how popular his frames are. He needs to win because if he doesn't then we send a message to up and coming math/science students that its not worth it. Give up now, don't bother getting a masters in mech engineering, because some corporate piece of shit is gonna swipe it from you, and then dare you to come after him and his army of lawyers. I hope they send the right message, that if you pay your dues and follow the rules you should get yours. How else can we expect new, better and more efficient designs and developments, in every industry? There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel if you expect students to commit to such an unappreciated trade. Good luck D.

  • OCsponger587

    5/5/2013 5:32 PM

    yeah cuz no other bike designer went to school or loves to ride bikes. i bet no one at giant even rides bikes cuz there so big and corporate

  • Adam_Schaeffer

    5/5/2013 6:51 PM

    Never said anything about any other designer, we are talking about Dave. Of course most if not all bike designers went to school, and I'm sure most of them ride. But it appears that some of them don't want to work very hard, so they just copy what someone else did. Just because you go to school for something doesn't mean you'll be any good, or inspired to work hard. Why would you ever approve of corporate power beating out the little guy? Its a single incident that highlights a much broader problem, and I hope to hell that a judge puts a stop to it.

  • Chuck Norris

    5/5/2013 5:01 PM

    I support the subject matter of this news article with the righteousness of this round-house.

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