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  1. #1
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    Specialized Lawsuit - At it again?

    Similar thread.

    New target = Volagi.

    From today's Merc:



    War of the road bikes

    By Howard Mintz

    hmintz@mercurynews.com
    Posted: 01/02/2012 07:04:26 PM PST

    When Robert Choi and Barley Forsman quit their jobs in Morgan Hill nearly two years ago at one of the nation's largest high-end bicycle makers, they were pursuing a Silicon Valley-style dream. They wanted to develop their own slick, high-performance bike in a company they dubbed Volagi, Latin for "a will to go."

    The two buddies and cycling enthusiasts established their company and designed a bike that sells for as much as $4,500 a pop.

    But their former bosses want to take the air out of their tires. They've sued Choi and Forsman in a case set for trial this week in Santa Clara County Superior Court, where a jury will be asked to settle a bitter legal feud that has all the makings of a David vs. Goliath standoff.

    Jury selection is set to begin Tuesday, and the trial is expected to unfold over the next two weeks.

    Specialized Bicycle Components, one of the nation's most prolific and well-known makers of high-performance bikes, filed the lawsuit last year, alleging that Choi and Forsman stole the design for their bike before leaving the South County-based company in 2010. They say Volagi and its signature bike, the "Liscio," is based on Specialized's trade secrets.

    Choi and Forsman deny stealing any designs from Specialized, maintaining that their former employer is simply bitter because the pair have developed a unique product that's drawing raves in the biking world. The partners view the lawsuit as an attempt by a powerful
    company and its well-paid lawyers to wipe out a small competitor.

    "They were embarrassed," said Forsman, 41. "A lot of this came down to appearance."

    Added Choi, 50: "We thought we had a better idea. And in order for us to pursue it, we were going to have to quit Specialized. For them to pursue this is an incredible surprise."

    Specialized's lawyers could not be reached for comment Monday. However, in court papers they depict Choi and Forsman as "two former employees who stole (the company's) trade secrets and started their own competing company during their employment with Specialized."

    Specialized alleges in court documents that Choi and Forsman schemed to design a bike to rival their line of "Roubaix" bikes, which can sell for as much as $11,000 and is described as one of the company's "most significant sources of revenue."

    Mike Sinyard, Specialized's CEO and founder, said in a deposition that when he visited Volagi's website after hearing about it from a Las Vegas trade show, he recalled, "There was our bike."

    The jury will have to sort out the competing accounts between Specialized, founded in Morgan Hill in the mid-1970s and now a company that sells hundreds of thousands of bikes each year, and Cotati-based Volagi, which to date has sold about 175 bikes, according to its founders.

    Thus far, judges have rejected Specialized's attempts to shut down Volagi's sales of its bikes, but the company plans to ask a jury to order the firm to pay "substantial" damages and relinquish the patents to its bike designs.

    But Forsman and Choi say their bike does not resemble anything Specialized produces, and is in fact designed to fill a void in the cycling world for people who aren't professional racers. They are convinced Specialized figured the partners would just pedal away when they got sued.

    "We did it above board," Choi said. "We thought it was the American way for us to quit the company and go on our way. They just didn't like that we had a successful bike, perhaps. And they thought we would just cave."




    I own some S product, and they make some great gear, but it strikes me that they go out of their way to put the screws to the little guy, much more than can be claimed as customary "turf defense".

    I'll also be interested to see what the expiration of the Horst patent brings.


    -D

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    I've grown up with Specialized products and I still ride them weekly as an adult. I love the company and what they produce...but NOT how they treat the little guys. Come on, these guys have only sold 175 bikes so far...I'm sure Specilized dealers sell more than 175 Roubaix bikes in just one day!

    Here's the Volagi frame...





    And the Roubaix frame that the CEO is quoted as saying is one of their "most significant sources of revenue"

    "It's not about the bike"

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frenzzy View Post
    I've grown up with Specialized products and I still ride them weekly as an adult. I love the company and what they produce...but NOT how they treat the little guys. Come on, these guys have only sold 175 bikes so far...I'm sure Specilized dealers sell more than 175 Roubaix bikes in just one day!

    Here's the Volagi frame...





    And the Roubaix frame that the CEO is quoted as saying is one of their "most significant sources of revenue"

    Specialized sucks ass.

    The roubaix is a race frame, the Volagi is an endurance frame. The Volagi has disc mounts for chrissakes.

    Mike Sinyard is going to hell.
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    I am ashamed of my old Specialized shoes and jacket. I really think it's time to boycott Specialized for their unethical business practices. I know corporate greed is bad, but this stuff is over the top.

    I was very disappointed to find that a LBS that I have not been to in years is yet another S dealer. Are there any shops left in Santa Cruz that do not carry Specialized?

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    Hope it works out for the best for all partied involved.
    Last edited by pmarshall; 01-03-2012 at 11:53 AM. Reason: Grumpy this morning and shot my mouth off!
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    The floggings will continue...

    ...until morale improves.

    IMHO; Specialized is pursuing this lawsuit more as a warning to current employees thinking of following the route of Choi and Forsman. Spesh may have sensed a mass exodus afoot; perhaps their non-compete clause wasn't as strong as it should have been.

    Besides alienating consumers (I've had 6 Specialized bikes) they are going to have a harder time attracting new engineers/designers with "fire in their bellies" for product innovation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post

    The Volagi has disc mounts for chrissakes.
    Disk brakes?! About ****ing time! Where do I order?
    Last edited by d-bug; 01-03-2012 at 11:35 AM.

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    Specialized is now a huge supporter of this site and I'm thankful for that. They've also been stepping up a bit in the community outreach.

    I don't much about this lawsuit but it sounds unfortunate. I met and interviewed Robert Choi about his bike in 2010. Really cool guy and I think he started Vistalite too before joining Specialized.

    Volagi Cycles road bike with disc brakes and vertical compliant ride - YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by icantdrive65 View Post

    I was very disappointed to find that a LBS that I have not been to in years is yet another S dealer. Are there any shops left in Santa Cruz that do not carry Specialized?
    the bicycle trip is one for sure. epicenter maybe?

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    So exactly what is the technical arguments here? Geometry, angles, features? All curvy road bikes look the same to me. It's not like one sports a DW and the other a VPP.

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    None of that excuses Specialized many aggregious acts. They have a track record of predatory IP lawsuits. Not to mention outright theft.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

    The roubaix is a race frame, the Volagi is an endurance frame. The Volagi has disc mounts for chrissakes.

    Mike Sinyard is going to hell.
    Just to clarify but I believe the Roubaix is actually Specialized's endurance frame. The Tarmac is their race frame. That's my understanding anyways. I own neither.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    Just to clarify but I believe the Roubaix is actually Specialized's endurance frame. The Tarmac is their race frame. That's my understanding anyways. I own neither.
    That's the point. This new company is creating a niche around high end endurance frames. Specialized doesnt make one. The Roubaix is a frame made for racing cobble stones and the like (IE Paris-Roubaix).

    The new company is putting disc tabs on their bike, which means it CANT be raced as its not UCI legal.
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    Having been close to a few patent disputes I'm curious what they will be arguing is the stolen IP. Carbon bikes all look pretty much the same on the surface, but that can be deceptive. Most of the real IP seems to be in the layup process and design for stress points - for example, redesigning a carbon road frame and fork around disc rather than rim brakes.
    I do like the disc mounts on the Volagi - that's pretty cool. IMO if Spesh were going to add disc mounts to any of their higher end road line it would have been the Roubaix.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerrickT View Post
    So exactly what is the technical arguments here? Geometry, angles, features? All curvy road bikes look the same to me. It's not like one sports a DW and the other a VPP.
    That's exactly what I would want to hear, too, before jumping to conclusions.

    I'm no Specialized fan boy. (Far from it!) But the following statement raised a flag for me:

    Added Choi, 50: "We thought we had a better idea. And in order for us to pursue it, we were going to have to quit Specialized. [...]"
    This makes it sound either like these people initially presented their ideas within Specialized but the ideas were rejected, or like they had the ideas while at Specialized but kept it to themselves. I'm just a lowly software engineer working for a Silicon Valley company, but even in the paperwork that I signed when I started work for my employer, there were clauses about claims by the company on all the work I produced, even on my own time, during the time I work for them. I'd be surprised to hear if these people weren't subject to similar waivers of rights on any design work they do while they work at Specialized. If so, that would lend a lot of credence to Specialized's position.

    You may not be a fan of such contract clauses for total ownership of an employee's creative work by the employer, but once you've signed those documents as you're being hired (hopefully after having read them thoroughly), you've essentially acceded to them and can't make much of a valid case against them afterward. Yes, you can attempt to defy them and try your luck at challenging them in court afterward if you have sufficient resources to do so, but that still doesn't reduce the position of Specialized to "corporate bullying". They'd merely be exercising a right granted to them by these people when they joined the company, in that scenario.

    Of course, all of this is only if there was such a grant of employees' intellectual property to Specialized in their contracts. Otherwise, this whole viewpoint goes out the window and any merit in Specialized's case would have to be based on the similarities of the designs in question.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    That's the point. This new company is creating a niche around high end endurance frames. Specialized doesnt make one. The Roubaix is a frame made for racing cobble stones and the like (IE Paris-Roubaix).
    The Roubaix is definitively a high end endurance frame. The frame is made to sell to the high mileage masses, not to a few racers in a specific race.

    From the Specialized website:
    "From the punishing cobbles of the Paris-Roubaix to high-mileage weekend rides, no other bikes come close to balancing compliance and performance over the long haul like the Roubaix and Secteur. Year after year, these bikes prove that smoother is undeniably faster and, of course, easier on your backside."

    That said, like the Santa Cruz suing Yeti, we don't know what goes on behind the scenes. (tho it sure looks like bullying)

    P

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    Quote Originally Posted by erginguney View Post
    I'm just a lowly software engineer working for a Silicon Valley company, but even in the paperwork that I signed when I started work for my employer, there were clauses about claims by the company on all the work I produced, even on my own time, during the time I work for them. I'd be surprised to hear if these people weren't subject to similar waivers of rights on any design work they do while they work at Specialized. If so, that would lend a lot of credence to Specialized's position.
    AFAIK those contract clauses are invalid in california:
    Preventing Your CA Employer from Owning Your Inventions
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    Quote Originally Posted by erginguney View Post
    That's exactly what I would want to hear, too, before jumping to conclusions.

    I'm no Specialized fan boy. (Far from it!) But the following statement raised a flag for me:

    Quote:
    Added Choi, 50: "We thought we had a better idea. And in order for us to pursue it, we were going to have to quit Specialized. [...]"
    .
    Ding ding. Sounds like the guy had an idea for a better road bike, while working for Specialized. Even if they did not want to develop it, they still have rights to it. Unless he shows he thought of the idea outside of specialized and used no specialized resources towards it, he has a week case. Or as stated, he went to Specialized and worked out rights to work with the technology.

    Anyone hear of Gore-tex. That man worked for Dupont. He came up with Gore-tex while working for Dupont. He asked Dupont to patent the technology. They would not. He asked for, and received permission in writing from Dupont, to patent it himself. He did this and received the patent. He subsequently left Dupont and started a company around said patent. He even asked Dupont to work with him on the technology. They did not as they saw no value. When Gore-tex took off, Dupont sued him. They lost because he had everything in writing giving him the right to do everything he did. I wonder if these guys have a similar letter? Something tells me they don't.
    Last edited by Vespasianus; 01-03-2012 at 01:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moto'n'PushBiker View Post
    AFAIK those contract clauses are invalid in california:
    Preventing Your CA Employer from Owning Your Inventions
    I didn't know that. That changes the question into whether they came up with the design in accordance with the stipulations of that law.
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    Both parties are willing to go to trial. At $400-500 an hour per lawyer, that ain't cheap, so I assume that they both think that they have a great case.
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    I think a lot of people are hating on a company without having any sort of knowledge of the actual situation at hand. I doubt that Specialized just goes around and sues everyone in their way.
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    This is interesting

    history of the roubaix:

    Specialized Roubaix - A Short History - Serving Torrance, Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, San Pedro and Lomita

    Specific to 2010 renovations in design:

    This construction method created the frame in four parts: the top tube/head tube/downtube section was made in a single unit. The seat tube was a separate unit, as were the seat stays. The bottom bracket area, chain stays and a short lug to connect the seat tube and down tube were fashioned as one piece. This gave the Tarmac best-in-class bottom bracket and chain stay stiffness, the part of the bike where torsional flex would waste the most power. And it allowed the bike's engineers to build in vertical compliance in the seat stays and top tube, to give the bike a smoother ride.

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    I have to admit, 's' have appears to have done their fair share of bullying in the past, but in this particular instance, it sounds like they may actually have a case. If I read correctly, the design was developed while the 2 were employed by Specialized, and Specialized chose to go with a different design. If the work was in fact done as Specialized states, then it is their design.

    If I code something at work, and my co-worker creates something similar, and the company decides to go the co-workers route instead of mine, that doesn't mean I can turn around and re-sell my version. It sounds to me like it will be the Jury's job simply to decide who really paid for the initial design of the product in terms of research.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astrahsburg View Post
    I have to admit, 's' have appears to have done their fair share of bullying in the past, but in this particular instance, it sounds like they may actually have a case. If I read correctly, the design was developed while the 2 were employed by Specialized, and Specialized chose to go with a different design. If the work was in fact done as Specialized states, then it is their design.

    If I code something at work, and my co-worker creates something similar, and the company decides to go the co-workers route instead of mine, that doesn't mean I can turn around and re-sell my version. It sounds to me like it will be the Jury's job simply to decide who really paid for the initial design of the product in terms of research.
    you cant patent geometry - and that's really all that sets this bike apart. Disc brakes not withstanding.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    you cant patent geometry - and that's really all that sets this bike apart. Disc brakes not withstanding.
    I don't think a patent is required. All you need is the design of the new bike to have come from work done under the purview of Specialized, using the companies time, resources, etc. And you can design geometry.
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    Quote Originally Posted by erginguney View Post
    I don't think a patent is required. All you need is the design of the new bike to have come from work done under the purview of Specialized, using the companies time, resources, etc. And you can design geometry.
    if you can show prior examples of other bikes using similar geometry, the argument is moot.

    With bicycles every conceavable type of geometry has been tried - it wouldnt be hard to show that viago has chosen geometry similar to many other bikes.

    Put it to you this way - if Specialized Roubaix geometry was so unique, dont you think this lawyer-heavy company would have patented it by now?
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    if you can show prior examples of other bikes using similar geometry, the argument is moot.

    With bicycles every conceavable type of geometry has been tried - it wouldnt be hard to show that viago has chosen geometry similar to many other bikes.

    Put it to you this way - if Specialized Roubaix geometry was so unique, dont you think this lawyer-heavy company would have patented it by now?
    I doubt it's the geometry that's the issue here. It's the carbon layup process. With almost all carbon bikes on the planet being made in the same factory (or factories) in Taiwan, it's each individual company's process that is at issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    I doubt it's the geometry that's the issue here. It's the carbon layup process. With almost all carbon bikes on the planet being made in the same factory (or factories) in Taiwan, it's each individual company's process that is at issue.
    Specialized is owned by Merida - who is the company who makes specialized. its doubtful they're making the viago's as well.

    edit - an according the Mike Sinyards quote he thought that the viago looked like a roubaix. This says nothing about layup - just looks.
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    I think one of Volagi's main design features is at the top tube/seat tube/seat stay junction. It's different than any of Specialized's endurance frames and I think how their frame rides so comfortably.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    Merida owns a percentage of Specialized (%19 according to wikipedia), Sinyard is still majority owner.
    back to your point - this is not a shared manufacturer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized is owned by Merida - who is the company who makes specialized. its doubtful they're making the viago's as well.

    edit - an according the Mike Sinyards quote he thought that the viago looked like a roubaix. This says nothing about layup - just looks.
    Merida owns a percentage of Specialized (%19 according to wikipedia), Sinyard is still majority owner.

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    Guess I'll get the Giro MTB shoes instead of the Specialized.

    As far as how the bike looks, it reminds me more of a RDO than a Roubiax, Tarmac or the S-Works frame.

    Seems even more fitting considering Specialized got started by copying the Richie design.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    back to your point - this is not a shared manufacturer.
    Fair enough. Bottom line is that there are only a handful of people that really know what went down here and my guess is that none of them will be participating in this thread. My only point was that I would guess that there is more than just simple geometry at issue.

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    I work with lots of big money corporate types and many of them can be very mobile in the industry.I have also been witness to similar behavior in Silicon Valley where ideas and process move at the speed of light. What you do and when, where your ideas are developed and what one carries with them when they move on are very difficult and sensitive issues.

    My thought is that this has less to do with Specialized, per se, than how such issues are managed. Good will, good guys/bad guys, go right out the door.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    you cant patent geometry - and that's really all that sets this bike apart. Disc brakes not withstanding.
    This case is certainly a much more relevant one than the "Epic" fiasco.

    I freely admit to loving Specialized - I love their bikes (we have five of them between the two of us) and I love that they do so much in the community from big things (IMBA and stuff listed above) to little things (portapotty at Demo) and I love that they are local.

    When big companies start bulking up their legal departments, you know they've run out of ideas and creativity (I'm looking at you Microsoft and Oracle) so this had me worried. But this whole coming up with an idea while working for a company then leaving to create a competitor is a very valid contract issue. I've had to sign an invention disclosure agreement for every employer I've had.

    It should be an open-and-shut contract issue and it's entirely appropriate for the courts to decide it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    Fair enough. Bottom line is that there are only a handful of people that really know what went down here and my guess is that none of them will be participating in this thread. My only point was that I would guess that there is more than just simple geometry at issue.
    I still dont see anything unique about the Roubaix that if copied would warrant a lawsuit. I know a good bit about carbon fiber manufacturing and a good bit about many of the patents involved and cant think of one applicable to this case.

    I've never heard of any company patenting a lay up pattern. I do know of companies patenting types of carbon, matrix flow techniques, "carbon rooting", etc - but patenting a lay up hasnt happened. The type of carbon used in these two bikes is not unique, nor is the technique used to build them.

    Geometry is basically public domain. Remember when 95% of all MTB's had 71/73 angles?

    There's nothing here.

    And further when you do a direct comparison of the bikes based on geometry - there is enough difference between the two that it would be easy to call in an expert witness to show that slight differences in TT, angles, Heat tube length, etc can make a significant difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frenzzy View Post
    I've grown up with Specialized products and I still ride them weekly as an adult. I love the company and what they produce...but NOT how they treat the little guys. Come on, these guys have only sold 175 bikes so far...I'm sure Specilized dealers sell more than 175 Roubaix bikes in just one day!

    Here's the Volagi frame...



    And the Roubaix frame that the CEO is quoted as saying is one of their "most significant sources of revenue"


    If I was on a jury, I would acquit. Those bikes are nothing alike (though all road bikes are the same to me). Disk brakes, no inserts on chainstays.

    I have heard the argument that the point was those guys designed their bike while still employed at Specialized. Given laws of employment in California, I would suspect that would be tough to enforce. Smells like a retaliatory lawsuit to me.

    Methinks Specialized should concentrate on making bikes. With disk brakes, no gimmicks and half the price would be a good start.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Even if they did not want to develop it, they still have rights to it.
    If that was true, no computer industry in Silicon Valley would exist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    you cant patent geometry - and that's really all that sets this bike apart. Disc brakes not withstanding.
    You can patent geometry if it is novel. If it is functional, you'd do a regular utility patent and if it is non-functional/ornamental you'd do a design patent ( Design patent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

    If you want to see how generic a design patent could be, look at this
    Patent USD504889 - Electronic device - Google Patents

    But since they're saying it is about "trade secrets" (basically an invention you don't publish as opposed to patents where you publish in order to get protection) I assume there's no patent filed by either side.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moto'n'PushBiker View Post
    You can patent geometry if it is novel. If it is functional, you'd do a regular utility patent and if it is non-functional/ornamental you'd do a design patent ( Design patent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

    If you want to see how generic a design patent could be, look at this
    Patent USD504889 - Electronic device - Google Patents

    But since they're saying it is about "trade secrets" (basically an invention you don't publish as opposed to patents where you publish in order to get protection) I assume there's no patent filed by either side.
    You're talking aesthetics, not geometry. Geometry has a real effect on the products utility and outcome - aesthetics dont.
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    After watching the program "Klunkerz" on PBS last month, I lost a lot of respect for Specialized, I may have interperated it wrong, but it seemed to me that Mike Sinyard took a "Mountainbike" Gary Fisher gave him and took it to Japan to be mass-produced. I do realize that it kicked off our hobby and all, but if that wasn't stealing someone's idea, I don't know what is!! -Robbrt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robbrt View Post
    After watching the program "Klunkerz" on PBS last month, I lost a lot of respect for Specialized, I may have interperated it wrong, but it seemed to me that Mike Sinyard took a "Mountainbike" Gary Fisher gave him and took it to Japan to be mass-produced. I do realize that it kicked off our hobby and all, but if that wasn't stealing someone's idea, I don't know what is!! -Robbrt
    Nope, they stole it, outsourced it, shipped it off to Taiwan and commoditized it.

    Now they're suing a small company for having a bike that *looks* like theirs.

    Mike Sinyard is an *******.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    You're talking aesthetics, not geometry. Geometry has a real effect on the products utility and outcome - aesthetics dont.
    As I said, you have the choice of two types of patent. If you claim it is not ornamental or aesthetics, you can do a utility patent.

    Why did you say the geometry is not patentable? It should be if it is novel.
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moto'n'PushBiker View Post
    Why did you say the geometry is not patentable? It should be if it is novel.
    Obviously, it is not the case here.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    ...and commoditized it.
    One may wish. Many proprietary bits on Specialized bikes are quite annoying. I do not recommend them to friends.

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    Will just add this to the mix. Do not know if this if definitely true or not but I heard from a Titus employee that Specialized threatened to sue them when Titus first came out with the FTM since it looked like the new S-Works bike (they released at about the same time).

    Titus was able to prove they had the design first so the suit was eventually dropped. It did cost Titus a bit of money at a time when they could not afford it.

    I think Specialized does some good stuff but I also think they are becoming over protective since they do not dominate the industry the way they once did. When it comes to MTB their suspension design is some what dated. The Horst link (FSR) is a very good design but it is no longer the design to copy.
    Here's to sweat in your eye.

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    EPIC!!!!
    Sue me
    Its all Shits and Giggles until somebody Giggles and Shits

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    Quote Originally Posted by mudncrud View Post
    Will just add this to the mix. Do not know if this if definitely true or not but I heard from a Titus employee that Specialized threatened to sue them when Titus first came out with the FTM since it looked like the new S-Works bike (they released at about the same time).

    Titus was able to prove they had the design first so the suit was eventually dropped. It did cost Titus a bit of money at a time when they could not afford it.

    I think Specialized does some good stuff but I also think they are becoming over protective since they do not dominate the industry the way they once did. When it comes to MTB their suspension design is some what dated. The Horst link (FSR) is a very good design but it is no longer the design to copy.
    EVERY time Specialized sues some small company into oblivion, their clueless fans defend them.

    They sued Mountain Cycle for a bike cyclocross bike called "stumptown" - named after Portland, OR's nickname.

    They sued WTB for a tire called "Epicwolf"

    They sued Stratos suspension for their inertial valve

    Before Charlie Kelley and Gary Fisher had the smarts to copyright their creation, Specialized sent one to Asia to be copied. Now the company known as "mountainbikes" is dead.

    And on and on.

    How many small, creative companies are we going to watch fall victim to Mike Sinyard's predatory tactics?
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    Specialized is just like Apple. Sue sue sue and hopefully they lose like Apple has been lately.

    Sent from my Nexus S 4G using Tapatalk

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    Pencil necked roadies fighting over carbon fiber curving ?
    Typical !

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    Not really inclined to give Specialized the benefit of the doubt here. This isn't the first time or the second time. And, to add insult to injury, for like 6 months they have been taking out ads in bike magazines showing some guy in denim overalls drooling over their 1981 copy of some other guys' bike.

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    I think it's good for the industry when an employee leaves a large company to produce a product that the company has rejected. It may in fact violate the employee's contract with the company, but the courts should IMO interpret the contract liberally in favor of the employee, because public policy should favor the fostering of innovation over corporate protectionism (particularly when the corporation is not really interested in marketing the new product itself and just wants to stifle competition). Unfortunately there are a lot of lawyers who make lots of money protecting the IP interests of large corporations, even if it means bullying ex-employees and small companies just getting started.

    I hope the Davids at Volagi prevail over the Goliath that is Specialized.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jenniferg View Post
    the courts should IMO interpret the contract liberally in favor of the employee, because public policy should favor the fostering of innovation over corporate protectionism
    This is about ownership. Sometmes ideas and products are purchased just to keep them off of the market. Whoever "owns" them can do whatever they want with them.

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  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricky916 View Post
    Specialized is just like Apple. Sue sue sue and hopefully they lose like Apple has been lately.

    Sent from my Nexus S 4G using Tapatalk
    Dude, Specialized is nothing like apple. Samsung IS Specialized.

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    I think Sinyard is pissed that someone parked in his spot at the Tennis and Raquet club. Those poor guys at Volagi were probably just there to carry a few golf bags or bus some tables to make ends meet, and now they are being sued..?
    That's what you get when you park an '87 Accord anywhere at the "club" I guess...

    We are in fact talking about Road Bikes a this point.. Just saying..

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by beaverbiker View Post
    You guys don't think that if some long time Apple employees jumped ship and made an iPhone lookalike they wouldn't get sued?
    This is not a lookalike. Not even close.

    Apple employees quit and start new companies doing consumer electronics products all the time.

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    I think California law is pretty clear on this. If you use your own time and your own resources and don't take advantage of proprietary information, you are fine. I have left a few large companies to join startups which compete with the former employer, and being sued by a former employer is not anything I worry about. People do this all the time. The few cases where a former employer actually sues somebody (let alone sues somebody and has merit) are a drop in the bucket, the exception that proves the rule. The thing that is really out of the ordinary here is the extent to which Mike S is willing to pay lawyers in order to bleed tiny competitors.

    I am in the market for a bike and my list just got shorter. Too bad, I rode an Epic a little while back and really liked it; it was on the top of the list. But it's off the list now.

    also on this topic:

    Bike Snob NYC: Motivation and Litigation: The American Way

  60. #60
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    One of the key issues is whether the employees that left signed a non-compete clause. It's usually for a year and commonly states that they can't create a competing product.

    When Hans left Santa Cruz Bikes, he had to ride Demo Forest every day. But then he got bored and bought a bike shop in SC and restructured it. After the year non-compete was over, he started/restarted Ibis.

    The other key is whether they stole key technology. We don't know. I'm pretty sure disc brakes on road bikes is not an issue. The key to Volagi is the seatstay is not attached to the seatpost, thus giving it a compliant ride.

    fc

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    Quote Originally Posted by francois View Post
    One of the key issues is whether the employees that left signed a non-compete clause. It's usually for a year and commonly states that they can't create a competing product.
    While commonly requested by employers and signed by employees (who may or may not know better), subject to common-sense limitations (you can't steal proprietary information), these are generally not enforceable in California. If it's your idea, and you do it on your own time, you are OK.

    The other key is whether they stole key technology. We don't know. I'm pretty sure disc brakes on road bikes is not an issue. The key to Volagi is the seatstay is not attached to the seatpost, thus giving it a compliant ride.
    I think this is the only issue. Per my previous comments, I'd be really surprised if there is any merit to this case.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by beaverbiker View Post
    And look how many of them and their employers are getting sued by Apple.
    I have not heard about one case here in California - did you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by beaverbiker View Post
    That's the main key to this. How do you prove that you didn't come up with that idea at Specialized? You spend every day designing bikes
    These guys were in the water bottle and frame pump side of the business.

    Specialized Take Volagi To Court Over Liscio Bike - BikeRadar

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by beaverbiker View Post
    That's the main key to this. How do you prove that you didn't come up with that idea at Specialized? You spend every day designing bikes for a company and the jury is supposed to believe that you did this new design on your own time?
    California labor laws are very lenient here. And as far as I know that guy was designing bottle cages and pumps.

    I have started my company while still working in another very big one. I know a whole lot of people who did the same. Our legal counsel was perfectly happy with all of that. I am not a lawyer - but that is my experience here.

  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by gxglass View Post
    These guys were in the water bottle and frame pump side of the business.
    Well, the Volagi frame does look a little like a carbon water bottle cage.

  66. #66
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    Here's the patent.

    -D
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel~ View Post
    Here's the patent.

    -D
    Thanks for that. The patent says it is for "ornamental design". Shouldn't GT and every other DJ framemaker be suing Volagi for patenting a common and existing "seatstay attached to the top tube".

    The patent even mentions GT. lol.

    Or is it the arched top tube? Thin seat stays? Integrated seat post clamp? Nothing is new here that I can see. All are common. But Volagi get to own it? Really?

    Perhaps Volagi should have stayed in the bike making business and not the intellectual property business.

    Sounds crazy, but maybe Specialized is actually protecting the bike industry on this one (...for their own purpose, of course).

    P

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    Preview of the 6:00 news

    All patents and copyrights, pertaining to any devices, inventions, formulas, processes and works of any nature whatsoever, shall be turned over to Bike Company X as a patriotic emergency gift by means of Gift Certificates to be signed voluntarily by the owners of all such patents and copyrights.

    The Board of Bike Company X shall then license the use of such patents and copyrights to all applicants, equally and without discrimination, for the purpose of eliminating monopolistic practices, discarding obsolete products and making the best available to the whole nation.

    Only Bike Company X shall use trademarks, brand names or copyrighted titles.

    Every formerly patented other product shall be known by a new name and sold by all manufacturers under the same name, such name to be selected by the Board of Bike Company X.

    All private trademarks and brand names except for those held by Bike Company X are hereby abolished.

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by gxglass View Post
    the exception that proves the rule.
    FWIW the actual phrase is "the exception proofs the rule." That is, it tests it. This phrase gets twisted around like "all intensive purposes" which is actually "all intents and purposes." File this away for the final exam.

    So this event will proof the rule.
    I don't rattle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    FWIW the actual phrase is "the exception proofs the rule." That is, it tests it. This phrase gets twisted around like "all intensive purposes" which is actually "all intents and purposes." File this away for the final exam.
    LOLZ. Ok. From the original Latin, probat can be translated as one likes, either "proves" or "proofs" if you want to sound archaic, or, more likely in your case, merely pedantic. The meaning of the expression is essentially the same in either case: the existence of the exception establishes the existence of a rule, possibly an implicit rule.

    There is no comparison with "for all intensive purposes", which is just a plain old mangling of English.

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized is owned by Merida - who is the company who makes specialized. its doubtful they're making the viago's as well.

    edit - an according the Mike Sinyards quote he thought that the viago looked like a roubaix. This says nothing about layup - just looks.
    You are basing your judgement on the article written by a news writer. Things get written out of context all the time... Just pointing that out.

  72. #72
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    The Volagi "patent" sure reversed my opinion.

    It seems the Volagi "ornamental" patent put Specialized in a position that it had to fight them. The "ornamental" design is so similar to the "ornamental" design of the Roubaix, that by not fighting it, Specialized would relinquish control of that "look" to Volagi. At any time Volagi would be able to request that Specialized stop manufacturing or request royalties for the look of the frame.

    Sorry if these are good guys and I appreciate the create-it-yourself mentality. I dig frame builders creations.

    But I have a problems when adding curves to this is patentable.


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    Quote Originally Posted by gxglass View Post
    LOLZ. Ok. From the original Latin, probat can be translated as one likes, either "proves" or "proofs" if you want to sound archaic, or, more likely in your case, merely pedantic. The meaning of the expression is essentially the same in either case: the existence of the exception establishes the existence of a rule, possibly an implicit rule.

    There is no comparison with "for all intensive purposes", which is just a plain old mangling of English.
    Good stuff on the origins but the meaning is different. The way that it is used tends to prove the validity of the exception. Testing the validity, as a "proof print", is quite another thing.
    I don't rattle.

  74. #74
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    Just something else to add to the information out there:

    Volagi Cofounder Robert Choi Speaks About Specialized Lawsuit - Bike Rumor
    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.
    E. F. Schumacher

    sXe

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.P View Post
    But I have a problems when adding curves to this is patentable.
    The actual innovation that they claim on their site is that seatstays are not attached to the seat tube (like on your photo where I see lugs). Claim is that it gives frame a bit of extra rear travel. Other "innovation" are disk brakes (about frigging time - hope Shimano and Avid come out with roadie hydro levers)

    But can't they just get a soft-tail 29r with drop bars and skinny tires?

    By the way, here is an actual European "community design" patent from our beloved Apple that got them an injunction against Samsung:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  76. #76
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    To my surprise this thread is more civil, thoughtful and readable than I could have imagined.

    I had a gut feeling when I read the first article that Specialized wasn't being a bully. We will see! Maybe they can trade I would dig a Specialized road bike with discs!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    Good stuff on the origins but the meaning is different. The way that it is used tends to prove the validity of the exception. Testing the validity, as a "proof print", is quite another thing.
    There is nothing "to be proved" relating to the applicability of this idiom. The outcome of this lawsuit is immaterial to the fact that almost nobody who quits their job to join a competitor ever gets sued. People quit their jobs and join competitors or startups every day. To get sued for it is unusual enough for it to be legitimately newsworthy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gxglass View Post
    almost nobody who quits their job to join a competitor ever gets sued.
    It all depends on how important the person is.

    IBM sued Apple ...

    HP sued Oracle ...

    Paypal sued Google ...

    over former executives and trade secrets.

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunGuy View Post
    It all depends on how important the person is.

    IBM sued Apple ...

    HP sued Oracle ...

    Paypal sued Google ...

    over former executives and trade secrets.
    All those some purely retaliatory affairs against insiders in public companies - with an entirely different type of contracts then a regular employee - and most of those went absolutely nowhere.

    Again, I am rather clueless about laws, but been told repeatedly by more knowledgable professionals that non-compete clauses and such are pretty much worthless in CA. But yes, if you piss off somebody you can get sued just make your life miserable. Which seems to be the case here, judging by what is public.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    The actual innovation that they claim on their site is that seatstays are not attached to the seat tube (like on your photo where I see lugs). Claim is that it gives frame a bit of extra rear travel. Other "innovation" are disk brakes (about frigging time - hope Shimano and Avid come out with roadie hydro levers)
    You are correct. The seatstays not attached to the seat tube is key. But then when I look at all the clever innovations frame builders create on a regular basis. I would love to hear what a frame builder thinks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    By the way, here is an actual European "community design" patent from our beloved Apple that got them an injunction against Samsung:
    Maybe that is it for me. The state of patents is getting pretty sad. I've read rumblings that patents are now starting to stifle innovation. Volagi cannot be blamed for achieving what is available to them as IP as it improves their business, and Specialized is stuck trying to protect their design from IP infringement. And somewhere a law firm buzzes with business...

    P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    The actual innovation that they claim on their site is that seatstays are not attached to the seat tube (like on your photo where I see lugs). Claim is that it gives frame a bit of extra rear travel.
    So, if the actual innovation is having the seatstays not attached to the seat tube, how is that any different than many of the full suspension mountain bikes on the market today? Many of those FS bikes which have seatstays attached to the top tube instead of the seat tube, with a shock before the attachment, can be called ornamental in design as well as functional. If Volagi's claim is that it gives the frame a bit of extra travel, then isn't that what designers and builders of FS MTB frames with seatstays that bypass the seat tube are also achieving? The FS MTB uses a mechanical shock to provide the travel, while Volagi's design is utilizing the flex of the carbon fiber tubes. Coil spring, leaf spring, air spring, bow spring. Volagi's spring is much less obvious than those on FS MTBs, but it's still a spring.
    It's a wholly original design for road frames.... the Hellenic stays are quite different, as they're still attached at the seat tube. I still see a similarity with off-road frame design. I also see a similarity to Corima's track frame and its flowing arc from rear dropouts to head tube.

    Since the design has been used on FS MTBs for many years, does Volagi claim that it is the only company that can utilize the design for road frames, or all frames? If just road frames, then I imagine any other company would be able to patent the design for off-road use, such as for cyclocross.

    I'm in complete support of Volagi, and I think the whole suit is absolutely ridiculous. Two guys, formerly of Specialized, have managed to design a bike that, in my opinion, has one of the most appealing and attractive road framesets I've seen in years. For Mike Sinyard to see strong similarities to the Roubaix is a major insult to Volagi (I've always disliked the look of the Roubaix, especially the ones with the dislocated-finger seatstays). A scenario I can imagine is this: Volagi introduces their bike at the trade show, and some Specialized frame designers/engineers are embarrassed to have a couple of their former equipment guys outshine them at their own game. Fearing further embarrassment (or scolding) from Sinyard, they try to convince him that the design belongs to Specialized, since it's just impossible for equipment designers to think of anything other than equipment design, let alone frame design.... frame design that just so happens to directly pertain to Robert and Barley's preference for endurance road riding. But, that's all speculation.

    I really hope things turn out in favor of Volagi. Either way, my opinion of Specialized has changed, and only Specialized can take the blame for that.
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  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Wizard View Post
    So, if the actual innovation is having the seatstays not attached to the seat tube, how is that any different than many of the full suspension mountain bikes on the market today?
    I can only answer as a clueless juror of their peers - I would think it is blatantly obvious that this frame and any of the full suspension mountain bikes on the market have nothing in common.

    That is to say - beats me. I have no idea what that patent is actually about and what degree of similarity it protects.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    I can only answer as a clueless juror of their peers - I would think it is blatantly obvious that this frame and any of the full suspension mountain bikes on the market have nothing in common.

    That is to say - beats me. I have no idea what that patent is actually about and what degree of similarity it protects.
    Volagi's patent isnt on trial - dont lose the point of this conversation. it doesnt matter if Volagi gets their patent or not - they should still be allowed to make their bike without fear of lawsuit from Specialized.
    Last edited by iheartbicycles; 01-05-2012 at 07:52 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Volagi's patent isnt on trial - dont lose the point of this conversation. it doesnt matter is Volagi gets their patent or not - they should still be allowed to make their bike without fear of lawsuit from Specialized.
    Setting the Record Straight
    By Barley Forsman (Volagi Co-founder)
    Jan, 4th, 2012

    Specialized is suing us (Robert Choi, Barley Forsman, and Volagi, LLC) - whew, there I said it!! It's been a long, very rough road and we've paid through the teeth for the privilege. But we are endurance athletes and will endure.

    Well over a year ago, exactly one month after we launched Volagi at InterBike 2010, a man approached the front door of my house, knocked on my door, handed me a folder, and told me that I "had been served". I was shocked and dumbfounded as I struggled to decipher the legal jargon presented to me - what could I have possibly done wrong?! There was no warning, no call, no e-mail, no letter, no 'cease and desist' - just a lawsuit.

    Robert and I have known each other since 1997 - when he hired me as a designer at Bell Sports (now, Bell-Easton). We have a long history of innovation - long before we even considered a position at Specialized. Before joining Bell, Robert started a company called VistaLite in 1989 that pioneered flashing safety lights for bicycles - which he eventually sold to Bell. I worked with Robert at CamelBak for almost 10 years. At CamelBak we helped to redefine the hydration industry, several times. Combined, we have nearly 40 patents to our names - all amassed long before joining Specialized.

    In 2008, we joined Specialized (ironically, I started 1 day before Robert). Robert was hired as "Director of Equipment" and I was hired as "Design Manager". Robert's primary responsibilities included product development for accessories: bottles, pumps, tools, tires, and some components (briefly). My primary responsibility was to act as the design resource for saddles, grips, bottles, bottle cages, etc. - again, mostly equipment. Aside, for a few top-tube shapes on a few entry level aluminum mountain bikes, I had no involvement in bike design and engineering. As a designer, I was not responsible for, nor did I have access to carbon engineering or manufacturing of carbon bicycles while at Specialized.

    The impetus for starting Volagi was born from a general discontentment from working at Specialized (and the Specialized 'method' of product creation), but more importantly, we wanted to create a company that focused solely on the type of riding that we love: endurance road cycling. We are AVID distance cyclists who have completed many difficult endurance events including: Paris Brest Paris (760 non-stop miles), The Furnace Creek 508 (508 non-stop miles), over 60 doubles in California alone, many, many 'brevets', and countless centuries. Needless to say, we have put a lot of time in the saddle.

    We wanted to start a company that focused on the real, everyday cyclist - a performance bicycle specifically suited to our type of riding. If you want a bike for the Tour de France, there are a lot of options out there for you, but that is not us. It's a small but fundamental difference in our approach to the road cycling market: what works best for Lance may not work the best for you.

    So why is Specialized suing us?! Truth is, we're still trying to figure that out. But here are some basic facts about Volagi and our bike:

    - The Volagi bicycle was not designed, engineered, or created at Specialized, or with any Specialized equipment or know-how.
    - Robert and I were not involved in engineering or design meetings at Specialized about bicycles while we were there.
    - The Liscio was never presented or shown to Specialized because we did not have it while we worked there.
    - The bicycle was designed and engineered AFTER we gave notice at Specialized (at that time we informed Specialized that we would be starting a company in the bicycling industry).
    - The Volagi Liscio patent was filed AFTER we left Specialized (by us).
    - Volagi was not registered as a company until after we gave notice.
    - We have made many attempts to resolve this (or any issue) with Specialized. It was never our plan (or desire) to have it go this far - we never thought it would.
    - We took names of bicycles shops that were listed in a Specialized database (that is really the extent of our evil deeds, and we admit this wrong-doing and have returned everything). FYI, all this information is readily available online, but we want to come clean.

    Again, these are the facts as we know them and we are confident that the truth will prevail in court. It is a shame that we have been forced to defend ourselves for this long. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and sold our houses to finance all the legal proceedings - we will not allow Specialized to bully us out of existence. This is our dream and we will fight to the end to keep it.

    We're not asking for your sympathy or your pity - we know in our heart what is right. But we would like to supply some relevant facts so you can make up your own mind about the situation. In the end, we only want to compete in the marketplace. We want to give cyclist the options to choose what bicycle they think is best for them - no smoke, no mirrors, just truth.

    We have, and will continue to have "The Will to Go!"

    Regards and tailwinds,

    Barley

    (taken from their facebook page)
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  85. #85
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    and for those of you still holding out hope that Specialized is actually a good company with good ethos, go educate yourselves on Stratos Suspension.

    Stratos was a great company who built good products and had a technology Specialized wanted. The whole concept behind Specialized "Brain" shock came from Stratos' Inertial Valve.

    stratos sued and out of business...

    Return of TerraLogic inertia valve damper - THANK YOU FOX
    Last edited by iheartbicycles; 01-05-2012 at 07:33 AM.
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  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    and for those of you still holding out hope that Specialized is actually a good company with good ethos, go educate yourselves on Stratos Suspension.

    Stratos was a great company who built good products and had a technology Specialized wanted. The whole concept behind Specialized "Brain" shock came from Stratos' Inertial Valve.

    stratos sued and out of business...
    ...so that's what happened to stratos. i had their shock back in the day. if spec. has a facebook page, maybe people should give them their two cents...ralph
    i need to ride more. building jumps takes to much time...my other hobby is kicking the crap outta my home built mook jong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1962 View Post
    ...so that's what happened to stratos. i had their shock back in the day. if spec. has a facebook page, maybe people should give them their two cents...ralph
    Specialized does have a FB page, but they are deleting negative comments.

    edit - I take that back. Their page is full of neg rep!
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWheels View Post
    Having been close to a few patent disputes I'm curious what they will be arguing is the stolen IP. Carbon bikes all look pretty much the same on the surface, but that can be deceptive. Most of the real IP seems to be in the layup process and design for stress points - for example, redesigning a carbon road frame and fork around disc rather than rim brakes.
    I do like the disc mounts on the Volagi - that's pretty cool. IMO if Spesh were going to add disc mounts to any of their higher end road line it would have been the Roubaix.
    They are not claiming stolen IP, but that any idea that an employee comes up with is Specialized Property, regardless whether it was done at work or not.

    If these guys were frame designers at Specialized, they might have a point, but they weren't.

    It's exactly the same as if you started a web site on say Bike Reviews in your spare time and your current employer claimed they owned the site because you had the idea while you were employed for them.

    - Booker C. Bense

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    Quote Originally Posted by francois View Post
    Specialized is now a huge supporter of this site and I'm thankful for that. They've also been stepping up a bit in the community outreach.

    I don't much about this lawsuit but it sounds unfortunate. I met and interviewed Robert Choi about his bike in 2010. Really cool guy and I think he started Vistalite too before joining Specialized.

    Volagi Cycles road bike with disc brakes and vertical compliant ride - YouTube

    fc
    Francis, I barely post in these forums, and only having only met and ridden with you once a few years back (w/Ricky @ Skeggs), I do beleive that your an asset to this industry and a general cool guy who's opinion I value.

    I feel compelled to reply to your post in particular, since you mentioned that the Big S is a big supporter of MTBR. I know that you, as a small business owner yourself, are just trying to get a piece of the pie, and no one can fault you or MTBR for that--corporate money is great.

    But you, and a lot of other industry people know, how much of a bully Specialized has been--onerous dealer agreements and merchandising standards just to name one. I've known five LBS owners that have shuttered their store because they (the shops) had to carry 60% of their inventory in Specialized bikes and products, and on a whim, Specialized has decided that their shop is no longer the best in town, and breaks their end of the deal and goes on to a bigger shop who thinks they can sell more of their product.

    At the core of this lawsuit, really is this:

    Does a company own someone's intellectual property while they are under the employ of said company? Even if the research and development is done outside of company hours?

    I hope that Specialized loses this battle becuase if they do, then companies will literally, OWN, you if you work for them. A really, bad precedent as far as case laws are concerned.

  90. #90
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    After reading Volagi's side of the story, I have to say that Spesh does not look good. Then again, we need to hear the other side to pass judgement. If at the end of the day, Volagi's claims are correct and validated in court, this will turn into a marketing nightmare for Spesh and a really dumb move.
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  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Setting the Record Straight
    By Barley Forsman (Volagi Co-founder)
    Jan, 4th, 2012

    Specialized is suing us

    So why is Specialized suing us?! Truth is, we're still trying to figure that out.
    We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and sold our houses to finance all the legal proceedings -

    (taken from their facebook page)
    "I spent >$100k, but I don't really know why."

    That letter did not set anything straight at all.

  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbense View Post
    that any idea that an employee comes up with is Specialized Property, regardless whether it was done at work or not.
    I have already mentioned that in this thread - but I have a really hard time believing that this will hold. The whole start-up world around here would not exist if that was even remotely enforceable. Just looks like a purely retaliatory lawsuit, any way you slice it, especially in the context of other things Specialized have done.

    Quote Originally Posted by beanbag View Post
    "I spent >$100k, but I don't really know why."
    Exactly. That is exactly how it happens and exactly the purpose of that lawsuit. Nothing else.

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Setting the Record Straight...
    Thanks for posting this. If this is true, Specialized and Sinyard certainly look like the evil empire many claim them to be.

  94. #94
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    Here is some great info from Bike Rumor:
    Volagi Cofounder Robert Choi Speaks About Specialized Lawsuit - Bike Rumor

    From Bike Rumor:
    BIKERUMOR: Were there prototypes, drawings or renderings of bikes with disc brakes or anything like your Longbow stays when you or Barley (Forsman, the other cofounder of Volagi) worked at Specialized?

    ROBERT: No, nothing. They claim that there’s a 2002 Tarmac model that had a split top tube, but you can go back and see a lot of older steel bikes with split top tubes that would meet at the seat tube and become the stays. Those were inspiration for us, but none of them were like the Longbow flex stays that actually use the properties of carbon to improve the ride comfort. Our patent includes mention that the top tube flexes when you sit on it and is independent of any movement at the chainstays.

    The design provides comfort usually obtained by stretching the wheelbase and stays, but in a design with tight geometry and sharp handling.

    BIKERUMOR: This case has been developing for quite some time, right?

    ROBERT: Barley and I gave our notice (at Specialized) on April 12, 2010. We went to Interbike in September of that year and showed two non-rideable models as a concept. One of those model’s primary colors was red, and apparently some Specialized employees saw them and told Mike Sinyard we must have taken their designs.

    We never had any access to the trade secrets for any of the high performance bikes. When we came up with the idea for our bike, we thought it was totally unique and new. We didn’t think for a second that Specialized would look at this and think it was anything like one of theirs. During the show, Sinyard came up to us and said that we really put him in an awkward situation, meaning he felt he had to do something because of pressure from his employees.

    We got our lawsuit that October 22.

    When they filed the lawsuit, we were totally surprised. Disc brakes on a performance road bike were totally new. Our flex seat stays weren’t designed until after we quit, and initially we didn’t even know if it could be patented.

    At first, Specialized was accusing us of stealing their design when they filed for a preliminary injunction asking that we halt sales of our bikes. They couldn’t demonstrate that we were harming them in any way, we didn’t even have a bike in the marketplace, so that was defeated. They’ve continued with the lawsuit, and this is the second full revision of the suit. They’ve claimed as many as nine causes in their civil action, now it’s down to three. Now the case isn’t really about us stealing their design, but about us breaching our contract for confidentiality, non-compete and invention assignment. Basically that we took their trade secrets. The suit claims that anything we created or thought of while we were in their employ, whether it was at work or on our own time, that the property was theirs. Because of this, they’re having a hard time coming up with damages. They’re claiming the Longbow seat stay design should be assigned to them and we should pay royalties on it to them.

    The case really hinges on when we formulated our ideas. By the time we had really discussed a concept in any detail, we both agreed that we needed to quit and pursue it on our own.
    more...
    Volagi Cofounder Robert Choi Speaks About Specialized Lawsuit - Bike Rumor


    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Setting the Record Straight
    By Barley Forsman (Volagi Co-founder)
    Jan, 4th, 2012

    ...So why is Specialized suing us?! Truth is, we're still trying to figure that out.
    From the interview above, it looks like he knows exactly why they are suing them, so not quite "setting the record straight". But then they are in a bitter battle and need support.

    It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. If Specialized is bullying, I hope they get kicked in the ding ding & the guys at Volagi can at least recoup costs and continue making bikes. But then justice does not win in the court room, the best lawyer(s) does.

    I do want to hear the other side tho.

    P

  95. #95
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    What? Syntard said he got pressure from his employees to sue Volagi? Uh, you're the CEO... right? You can't tell them it isn't a big deal, and now I'm going to go light my Cuban with a $100 bill?

  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by icantdrive65 View Post
    I am ashamed of my old Specialized shoes and jacket. I really think it's time to boycott Specialized for their unethical business practices. I know corporate greed is bad, but this stuff is over the top.
    ?
    specialize are greedy fvcks

    here's another a few years back
    stratos sued and out of business...
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  97. #97
    miwuksurfer
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    Another unrelated example of Specialized exemplary market behavior...

    Bicycle Retailer and Industry News

  98. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot View Post
    What? Syntard said he got pressure from his employees to sue Volagi? Uh, you're the CEO... right? You can't tell them it isn't a big deal, and now I'm going to go light my Cuban with a $100 bill?
    We have always known the evils of peer pressure, even as little kids. It has raised its evil face in the corporate world.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  99. #99
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    Dang. Next time, I'm buying a Trek.
    Faster is not always better, but it's always more fun

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    You got it...

    Here's a framebuilder's opinion for you - ornamental patents are ludicrous. People have been building unsuspended safety bicycles for something like 150 years now. Every conceivable curve and attachment point has been done. Worse, enforcing this sort of patent really comes down to a matter of perception - I assume it would be up to a (probably non-cyclist) judge to decide whether some frame looked dissimilar enough to some other frame to be kosher.

    There should probably just be a permanent ban on new patents related to unsuspended bicycles that incorporate the standard members (ie, head tube, downtube, toptube, seat tube, bb, chainstays, seatstays, dropouts). Materials or construction process patents? Sure! Ornamental ones? Sorry, no go.

    -Walt


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.P View Post
    You are correct. The seatstays not attached to the seat tube is key. But then when I look at all the clever innovations frame builders create on a regular basis. I would love to hear what a frame builder thinks.



    Maybe that is it for me. The state of patents is getting pretty sad. I've read rumblings that patents are now starting to stifle innovation. Volagi cannot be blamed for achieving what is available to them as IP as it improves their business, and Specialized is stuck trying to protect their design from IP infringement. And somewhere a law firm buzzes with business...

    P

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