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  1. #1
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    DW-Link vs. Giant in Patent Infringement

    Interesting, I have not seen this posted yet:

    dw-link Incorporated v. Giant Bicycle Inc et. al. patent lawsuit


    Recall, DW has a separate lawsuit against Trek over the claimed patent infringement of their ABP. Not sure where that stands now.

    Weagle sues Trek over suspension patent | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
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  2. #2
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    DW seems to be a bit sue-crazy...

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    I think DW will be sorry. He should be happy with scam he's got going. Once a court decides he never really invented anything, its going to be open season on copying that design.

    Of course, that's just my theory. It will be interesting to see what happens. It'll probably take years to get the case heard, though.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    DW seems to be a bit sue-crazy...
    Why would you go to the trouble of filing a patent and not bother to sue infringements? Socially, we seem to be going through a period of shoot the messenger and blame the victim.

    As I see it, decisions are made by financial folk who weight the costs of paying patent fees [immediate] versus litigation down the road [deferred]. The morality or fairness doesn't seem to enter into the process.

    Specialized gets flack for the FSR patents, but they paid for them. Several other companies bought in or pay fees. Same with VPP with Santa Cruz and Intense. And Horst Leitner got paid for his work.

    Would you sue if you weren't being paid, and not expect to be called a whiner?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bulerias View Post
    Why would you go to the trouble of filing a patent and not bother to sue infringements? Socially, we seem to be going through a period of shoot the messenger and blame the victim.

    As I see it, decisions are made by financial folk who weight the costs of paying patent fees [immediate] versus litigation down the road [deferred]. The morality or fairness doesn't seem to enter into the process.

    Specialized gets flack for the FSR patents, but they paid for them. Several other companies bought in or pay fees. Same with VPP with Santa Cruz and Intense. And Horst Leitner got paid for his work.

    Would you sue if you weren't being paid, and not expect to be called a whiner?
    In my opinion, DW didn't invent anything. There are several different mini link type designs on the market right now, and his was not the first.
    I had figured up to this point that no one was suing anyone else because of the risk of these flimsy patents not holding up in court, not because of the expense of suing.
    So DW, and others, have been enjoying this pretty sweet deal where they are able to profit from exclusivity of a 4 bar design that has been around for years. Now, even though he is the plantiff, he will have to defend his patent, and that is far from a sure thing.

    So, in my opinion, it is not really a question of whether the Giant design infringes on the DW patent, but whether the DW patent will hold up under the scrutiny of the court.

  6. #6
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    The patent system doesn't test the patents, it just grants them with a little vague checking, then depends on the courts to test their validity.

    Often , paying a small royalty is cheaper than the court case.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    In my opinion, DW didn't invent anything. There are several different mini link type designs on the market right now, and his was not the first.
    I had figured up to this point that no one was suing anyone else because of the risk of these flimsy patents not holding up in court, not because of the expense of suing.
    So DW, and others, have been enjoying this pretty sweet deal where they are able to profit from exclusivity of a 4 bar design that has been around for years. Now, even though he is the plantiff, he will have to defend his patent, and that is far from a sure thing.

    So, in my opinion, it is not really a question of whether the Giant design infringes on the DW patent, but whether the DW patent will hold up under the scrutiny of the court.
    Functionally, the fact that the rear triangle is a rigid unit, as is VPP, separates them from the four bar Horst link system. The argument then becomes whether Giant is infringing upon the Leitner patent or DW's. VPP has links rotating opposite - which I wouldn't be bothered infringing upon, having calculated the stresses involved - whereas the DW has its only real similarity to 'fsr' in the fact that the chain stay has a pivot in it, but at the opposite end and the chain stays become a triangular unit. This is, apart from providing a reasonable isolation of braking and a non circular axle path, a very different design. The fact that the results are both an improvement over a single pivot is irrelevant.

    In other words, if you moved the rear pivot from near the axle end of the chainstay up to the main pivot area you would have to brace it to the upper seat stay or the thing would destruct; this construction difference allows the forward location and short pivot. If you use his design solution it falls under the patent. If not, you are free to pay the Leitner patent or come up with something different again.

    By deciding against DW the court would have to decide that it falls under the other previous patent. If there are others paying fees for the DW patent it becomes a mess to find Giant not liable.

    It also seems to me that the cost of paying a royalty - which they may end up doing anyway, and would be my advice - versus litigation, considering that there is no difference between what they are making and the DW filing, is risking making Giant look cheap more than DW looking greedy. Calling it Maestro instead of DW may have been a PR blunder as well.

    I'm a Giant fan, just bought one, but unless the royalty fees are stupidly high, they should have just paid to play, in my opinion. And even if the courts decide, it doesn't mean that they made the just choice, just a choice.

  8. #8
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    To qualify as a patentable invention, you must be able to show your idea is novel, and unobvious. Those are the terms used in the law.
    In my mind, it is quite easy to argue that the DW link is neither.

    Changes in length of bars or locations of pivots are excellent examples of obvious iterations of the same design.

    As an example, the first carbon fiber bicycle frame was ruled unpatentable by the courts, since this new material would obviously be used to replace traditional materials in many applications.

    The courts look at "prior art", meaning everything that existed prior to the patent claim, to determine if your invention is novel and unobvious. I think the lawyers for Giant will be pulling out hundreds of examples of prior art to show that DW really does not meet the criteria for a patentable invention.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pharmaboy View Post
    The patent system doesn't test the patents, it just grants them with a little vague checking, then depends on the courts to test their validity.

    Often , paying a small royalty is cheaper than the court case.
    Yes! That is why many companies are happy to keep quiet and ignore infringements rather than have their patent claims tested in court.

    My theory right now with DW is that he is testing the will of Giant (which is truly a giant company) to fight his challenge, in the hopes that they will offer him money, instead of going to trial.

    You have to wonder why this comes up now after Maestro has been around so long. He must be running out of money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    To qualify as a patentable invention, you must be able to show your idea is novel, and unobvious. Those are the terms used in the law.
    In my mind, it is quite easy to argue that the DW link is neither.

    Changes in length of bars or locations of pivots are excellent examples of obvious iterations of the same design.

    As an example, the first carbon fiber bicycle frame was ruled unpatentable by the courts, since this new material would obviously be used to replace traditional materials in many applications.

    The courts look at "prior art", meaning everything that existed prior to the patent claim, to determine if your invention is novel and unobvious. I think the lawyers for Giant will be pulling out hundreds of examples of prior art to show that DW really does not meet the criteria for a patentable invention.
    When you really understand a question fully, the answers are always obvious. Something that seems complicated and abstruse, to an true expert in the field is just a walk in the park. The Earth going round the Sun, instead of the opposite, was obvious to Galileo and Copernicus; the rest of us took a while to realize it.

    One man's obvious is another man's obscure. So coming in after the fact and stating 'well, I knew that!' is corroboration of a good idea. Having put it down on paper first is another matter to which the patent office gives priority. If it were so obvious, and Giant wanted to use it, they should have registered the design first as a patent.

    So now we get a real David [Weagle] vs. Goliath the Giant fight. That an Idea is obvious is the last resort of the guy who came late to the party. The light bulb, in retrospect, was obvious, but Edison got there first. The wheel would have had a patent except that they didn't have patents then. Policeable patents are good because that promote a lot of innovative thinking. Intellectual property theft has the opposite effect.

    Giant should have hired Dave Weagle as a consultant instead of fighting him in court.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bulerias View Post
    When you really understand a question fully, the answers are always obvious. Something that seems complicated and abstruse, to an true expert in the field is just a walk in the park. The Earth going round the Sun, instead of the opposite, was obvious to Galileo and Copernicus; the rest of us took a while to realize it.

    One man's obvious is another man's obscure. So coming in after the fact and stating 'well, I knew that!' is corroboration of a good idea. Having put it down on paper first is another matter to which the patent office gives priority. If it were so obvious, and Giant wanted to use it, they should have registered the design first as a patent.

    So now we get a real David [Weagle] vs. Goliath the Giant fight. That an Idea is obvious is the last resort of the guy who came late to the party. The light bulb, in retrospect, was obvious, but Edison got there first. The wheel would have had a patent except that they didn't have patents then. Policeable patents are good because that promote a lot of innovative thinking. Intellectual property theft has the opposite effect.

    Giant should have hired Dave Weagle as a consultant instead of fighting him in court.
    Well said. DW is perfectly entitled to defending his IP, he's a highly talented engineer who deserves recognition for his work. However the suit does confirm that Maestro is very close to his link... which may work in Giant's favour in terms of sales.

  12. #12
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    I'm not sure DW has anything here. This is strictly an observation based on the artwork for the patents and my experience with the Maestro setup. What the whole thing makes me think of is, yes, Edison invented the incandescent bulb, and it makes light. That doesn't mean he gets royalties from everyone else that finds a way to use electricity to get light into a room. Florescent and LED and Arc lights are completely different beasts. Even if you start with electricity and end up with light, netting you the same result, you don't have to pay Edison the royalties.

    Same thing here. They haven't actually copied the design. They've achieved a similar result, but they've gone about it with linkages that don't appear to be included in the array of drawings DW has with his patents. The only hope I can see for DW is if they do something like they would with a song in court and say it's "substantially similar" and give it to him. But I don't know if the notion of "substantial similarity" applies outside of the music industry.

  13. #13
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    While I agree that everyone should be able to defend their ideas, I somehow don't see this ending well for DW. I think contrare to the earlier post, DW is now going after this because he now has "some" money to afford to do it, however, I fear that he may well bankrupt himself in the process if Giant decides to play hardball and drag this out, they have the money to just drag this out for years, similar to what Microsoft was famous for.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bulerias View Post
    When you really understand a question fully, the answers are always obvious. Something that seems complicated and abstruse, to an true expert in the field is just a walk in the park. The Earth going round the Sun, instead of the opposite, was obvious to Galileo and Copernicus; the rest of us took a while to realize it.

    One man's obvious is another man's obscure. So coming in after the fact and stating 'well, I knew that!' is corroboration of a good idea. Having put it down on paper first is another matter to which the patent office gives priority. If it were so obvious, and Giant wanted to use it, they should have registered the design first as a patent.

    So now we get a real David [Weagle] vs. Goliath the Giant fight. That an Idea is obvious is the last resort of the guy who came late to the party. The light bulb, in retrospect, was obvious, but Edison got there first. The wheel would have had a patent except that they didn't have patents then. Policeable patents are good because that promote a lot of innovative thinking. Intellectual property theft has the opposite effect.

    Giant should have hired Dave Weagle as a consultant instead of fighting him in court.
    I guess we have summarized the 2 sides of the argument well enough.

    But I think that DW will have his problems in court, when they not only compare his patent to Giant, but all prior art.
    Even the VPP patent is prior art. The law will ask what problem this invention is solving and if the invention would not be an obvious solution to someone skilled in the art (of bicycle suspension). It asks if there was an "inventive step" taken over prior art.

    I think DW gets into more trouble with VPP when trying to fight Giant. I don't think there is any inventive step taken to get from VPP to DW. Moving pivots or using rocker links instead of swing links are design and development changes, not inventions. (Of course this is all my opinion).

    And you must consider that and patent claim must be claim of structure not function. Tweeking a four bar suspension can lead to different functional characteristics, but the question will be about the structure of the suspension being novel and unobvious.

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    Same thing here. They haven't actually copied the design. They've achieved a similar result, but they've gone about it with linkages that don't appear to be included in the array of drawings DW has with his patents. The only hope I can see for DW is if they do something like they would with a song in court and say it's "substantially similar" and give it to him. But I don't know if the notion of "substantial similarity" applies outside of the music industry.[/QUOTE]

    The only differences I see are that the lower link pivots further forward and shares the shock mount location. The patent states that by adjusting the lengths and angles of the links the axle path can be manipulated, so quite where Giant decided to put and make them - it varies with the application - is impossible for DW to anticipate and draw.

    The fact that the styling of the links in the pictures is different isn't what the patent is about; the linkages are functionally the same. The math is the same. The geometry variables are the same. Arbitrary details of construction will always differ. The result isn't similar, it's the same. And the upper link swing in the opposite direction has a completely different set of dynamics to VPP. When you reverse the direction of a major part with a different effect, that is possibly obvious after the fact but involves a complete rethink of the dynamics.

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    Giant could argue that they're design doesn't infringe on the DW patent, but I think its much more likely that they argue that the DW design is not a valid patent to begin with. And its probably a calculation they made before they even started Maestro production.

    And the upper link swing in the opposite direction has a completely different set of dynamics to VPP. When you reverse the direction of a major part with a different effect, that is possibly obvious after the fact but involves a complete rethink of the dynamics.
    You'll have to help me understand the "dynamics", because in my mind, it makes absolutely no difference at all.
    Push on one end of stick and it rotates clockwise, push on the other end and rotates counterclockwise. The link is just a way to transfer force from the swingarm to the shock. Lengths, moment arms etc matter, rotation direction doesn't, as far as I can see.

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    Didn't DW state at one point (not verbatim of course) that while the giant bikes (specifically the newest version of the glory at the time, 2010?) look very similar to his design, that giant still didn't quite manage to 'get it right'.

    I'm paraphrasing of course but i had it in my head that something alone those lines was stated.

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    Reviewing Count III: Breach of Contract, note that dw-link is seeking an injunction which potentially could prevent Giant from selling their new generation of bikes developed jointly with DW (i.e. G+ Technology). On its own, this injunction could happen without even addressing the patent infringements.

    Assuming Giant is close to launching this next gen suspension, it goes without saying that a stoppage of new product would make things difficult for Giant and its dealer network.
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    Giant could argue that they're design doesn't infringe on the DW patent, but I think its much more likely that they argue that the DW design is not a valid patent to begin with. And its probably a calculation they made before they even started Maestro production.



    You'll have to help me understand the "dynamics", because in my mind, it makes absolutely no difference at all.
    Push on one end of stick and it rotates clockwise, push on the other end and rotates counterclockwise. The link is just a way to transfer force from the swingarm to the shock. Lengths, moment arms etc matter, rotation direction doesn't, as far as I can see.
    This isn't the place to get into the differences between the two; obviously you don't understand the forces involved and the function of the upper link. Calculate the VPP's approximate downward vector on the upper link as a result of chain tension on the lower link.

    There are more balls to juggle here than you seem to think. It's like those guys who ask ' just a quick question' and you're faced with the dilemma of how to condense a three hour lecture on interreacting vectors into a three minute phone conversation - without a blackboard.

    This is why I think this patent fight may be coloured by the adjudicating body's ability to understand how the systems work. My expectations aren't high.

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    This isn't the place to get into the differences between the two; obviously you don't understand the forces involved and the function of the upper link. Calculate the VPP's approximate downward vector on the upper link as a result of chain tension on the lower link.

    The link rotation direction is completely irrelevant and here is why:

    Say I am a caveman and I just invented the lever. I go to the caveman patent office and show them my design drawing, which looks like a see-saw with a rock on top of the lever on the right side, and a fulcrum in the center. I push on the left side of the lever and I can lift the rock.

    Then, my arch rival, Grog, goes to the patent office with his great invention, which he hopes will earn him lots of clams.
    His drawing shows a see-saw configuration, with a rock on the left end and a force on the right end lifting the rock.
    His new improved lever rotates clockwise, whereas the patent on the old technology rotated counterclockwise, so he argues he has a new invention.
    Grog is wrong.

    There are more balls to juggle here than you seem to think. It's like those guys who ask ' just a quick question' and you're faced with the dilemma of how to condense a three hour lecture on interreacting vectors into a three minute phone conversation - without a blackboard.
    So we are back to an argument of function rather than structure. Forces on the links, effects of chain tension, etc can be varied by simple manipulations of pivot locations, and lever arm lengths. There are many ways to tune a 4 bar design, but these are not new inventions.


    This is why I think this patent fight may be coloured by the adjudicating body's ability to understand how the systems work. My expectations aren't high.
    I also think it is important that the court will be technically competent to rule on this case, but the benefits of DW's linkage and pivot locations will not be the question. The question will be whether his 4 bar patent is novel and non-obvious compared to the prior art.

    (Well, that would be the focus of my arguments if I was a lawyer for Giant, anyway).

  21. #21
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    DW-Link vs. Giant in Patent Infringement

    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    While I agree that everyone should be able to defend their ideas, I somehow don't see this ending well for DW. I think contrare to the earlier post, DW is now going after this because he now has "some" money to afford to do it, however, I fear that he may well bankrupt himself in the process if Giant decides to play hardball and drag this out, they have the money to just drag this out for years, similar to what Microsoft was famous for.
    I agree. I think DW just poked a hornet's nest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post




    I also think it is important that the court will be technically competent to rule on this case, but the benefits of DW's linkage and pivot locations will not be the question. The question will be whether his 4 bar patent is novel and non-obvious compared to the prior art.

    .
    So many virtual pivot frames now- theyre all just variations of a theme.

    Does anyone remember the first virtual pivot frame? The earliest i can remember is this old cannondale from 98 -

    Old School Tech: Cannondale Fulcrum - Pinkbike

    cant see how its TOO different from a DW design. still has a solid rear "triangle", just different pivot locations

  23. #23
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    Re: DW-Link vs. Giant in Patent Infringement

    Outland made the first vpp frame and it predates this Cannondale.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timbo83 View Post
    So many virtual pivot frames now- theyre all just variations of a theme.

    Does anyone remember the first virtual pivot frame? The earliest i can remember is this old cannondale from 98 -

    Old School Tech: Cannondale Fulcrum - Pinkbike

    cant see how its TOO different from a DW design. still has a solid rear "triangle", just different pivot locations
    Did BCD (Alex Morgan) do any mini link stuff? i know his 2x4 design was technically a virtual pivot but i don't remember the design details. That would have been early to mid '90's. His stuff was all carbon as well.
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    All of this debate regarding suspension theory and potential arguments from either side in a court of law is fascinating, but they all could be rendered moot due to the fact that none of this takes into account the timeline of events that resulted in the lawsuit as detailed on Bike Rumor.

    In this context, perhaps Giant is on shaky ground, not DW.

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