The recent launch of Scott USA bicycles in the U.S. market at the Sea Otter Festival caused some concern among the ranks of Specialized executives. Scott USA has been a strong competitor in Europe, and the companys Genius full suspension MTB design, according to Specialized, looked remarkably similar to the Specialized FSR suspension design.
The patent infringement lawsuit that has since followed, could determine whether or not Scott USA will be strictly a road brand in the American market or a contender in the mountain bike world as well.
BikeBiz.com is reporting that Mike Sinyard, the Founder and President of Specialized, is likely to follow through with this suit. Since Scott has the potential to become such a threat, it appears unlikely that a technology licensing agreement, similar to the deals with Intense or Jamis, will result.
According to Specialized, “FSR and related technologies are protected by a wide range of domestic and international patents covering design and utility as well as specific implementations Specialized vigorously protects its intellectual property assets, including FSR.”
“Our Genius design was independently developed by Scott and offers unique features. The Specialized litigation involves U.S. patents,” said Scott Montgomery, GM of Scott USAs bike division. “Specialized has no corresponding patent in Europe or elsewhere, and therefore this dispute has no impact on our continuing sales in Europe and other parts of the world.”
Montgomery also said that so far no Genius product has been imported for re-sale into the U.S.
According to court documents obtained by BOSS, Specialized filed suit on April 16, claiming that Scott had infringed on its “679” and “837” patents, both are for different elements of rear suspension design. Specialized has also asked for a preliminary restraining order, preventing Genius sales in the U.S. and asked for damages and royalty payments from Scott USA.
Scott USA in its reply to the charges laid out a nine-tiered defense plan and filed two counter claims against Specialized. In the response, it was stated, “Specialized purports to be the owner of the 679 patent and the 837 patent, both of which name Horst Leitner as the sole inventor. AMP Research has been the owner of at least the 679 patent and, upon information and belief, of the patent rights of Horst Leitner ”
One of the counter claims filed by Scott USA apparently accuses Specialized of fraud, an allegation which Specialized quickly disputed, and the Judge overseeing the case has since dismissed.
>>> Its impossible to tell who will come out ahead in this one, but so far, Specialized has been quite successful in defending the FSR design