In a complaint filed in the Central District of California courts on July 13, 2022, Fox Factory, Inc., is seeking damages from SRAM, LLC, for patent infringement relating to SRAM’s use of bleed ports on their latest Rockshox suspension forks.
In the filing, Fox refers to its Patent # 9,739,331 for a “Method and Apparatus for an Adjustable Damper” that contains a manually activated pressure equalization valve. We’ve seen these on their forks for years, and they’ve proven popular for keeping the forks working their best as temperature and elevation changes throughout the ride.
The recent Rockshox launch of its 2023 Pike, Lyrik and ZEB forks introduced a similar feature on those forks, and Fox is claiming they did so with willful disregard of their patent. Available on Ultimate and Select+ versions of all three forks, the feature appears to operate exactly the same as on Fox’s forks.
Fox is seeking actual and punitive damages, and has asked the courts to demand that SRAM cease sales of infringing products and deliver unsold inventory for destruction. Or perhaps SRAM could just pay damages and plug the holes…which would be easy enough since the valves are removable.
In reality, the end result could simply be that SRAM has to license the technology, much like Race Face (owned by Fox) now has to license narrow-wide chainring teeth from SRAM in a drawn-out legal ordeal that no doubt left a sour taste in Fox’s mouth.