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Patent Battles: Stan’s NoTubes holds ground w/ tubeless victory, SRAM moves to protect their X-Sync patents

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Stans patent vs specialized

At any given time, there is a good chance that at least one or two companies in the industry are undergoing some type of patent litigation. A seemingly natural part of business in the industry, recently two noteworthy cases have come across our desk. The first involves an ongoing dispute between Stan’s NoTubes and Specialized Bicycle Components. After Specialized released rim designs that Stan’s felt infringed on their U.S. Patent 7,334,846, Stan’s brought suit against Specialized, eventually winning a judgement from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The latest installment invovled the United States Court of Appeals in the Federal Ciruit on February 4, 2016, which affirmed the PTAB decision. Stan’s currently holds four different patents related to their ZTR product line with Bead Socket Technology. Based on the latest ruling, it seems Specialized will have to pay compensation to Stan’s NoTubes.

In an even bigger case that’s apparently underway, SRAM looks to be stepping up enforcement of their X-Sync narrow-wide IP…

SRAM X sync patent SRAM X sync patent 2

When SRAM announced they would be licensing their X-Sync chainring technology to other companies, there was a line at the end that made us wonder. Amidst a flood of competitors offering single chainrings with their own chain retention properties, SRAM simply stated that, “SRAM reserves the right to enforce its intellectual property in all matters relating to X-SYNC.” That was back in 2014. Now two years later, it looks like they might be invoking that right. Thanks to an anonymous tip, we were alerted to three different lawsuits from SRAM for patent infringement against Race Face, Praxis Works, and Wolf Tooth Components. All three cases seem to stem from infringement on SRAM’s U.S. Patent #9,182,027 as well as potentially patent #9,062,758.

The concept of a narrow-wide chainring itself doesn’t seem to be patent-able due to the concept dating back to at least a patent from 1979 from the Gehl Company. However, what is apparently subject to patent is just how the teeth are designed and their arrangement on the chainring – which is what seems to be the focus here. When reached for comment, Race Face, Praxis Works, and WTC all stated that they could not comment on pending litigation. We also reached out to SRAM for comment but have not heard back. More as we get it.

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grandmama
grandmama
6 years ago

Ah – the business side of things. Perhaps a calculated move by SRAM? Develop a technology, open a door for others to enter the party free for a few years, then charge 🙂

J N H
J N H
6 years ago
Reply to  grandmama

More like a panic reaction. I think someone high up in SRAM expected everyone to go out and buy XX1/X01 groupsets with their proprietary BCD to get the narrow wide improvements. Instead of the obvious, other brands supplying what they wouldn’t in 104BCD.
.
Whether they win or not that cat is out of the bag now. They won’t be able to touch the European brands or factories in Taiwan machining them by the thousand, the best they can hope for is damages and licensing fees. I can see the defendants using the lack of SRAM 104 X-Sync chainrings against them, or the arrival of new,slightly different Narrow/Wide chainrings in the next twelve months.

Garrett
Garrett
6 years ago

Specialized was on the receiving end this time eh? Wonder how that felt…

John
John
6 years ago
Reply to  Garrett

SRAM is the new Campy.

Ryan S
Ryan S
6 years ago

C’mon Stan’s, make Specialized hurt! Then again, they won’t. Their minions will just lap up any changes.

Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen
6 years ago
Reply to  Ryan S

Yeah. Suddenly Zero Bead Hook makes “sense”.

Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen
6 years ago

1x wouldn’t even be a think if it weren’t for those companies making 1×10 modification systems. SRAM let them basically GIVE them the 1x market, and now they’re suing them. I am sure those companies will lose, and SRAM will “regrettably have to ” seize their assets and trademarks. SIX C cranks, now Powered by SRAM!

PFS
PFS
6 years ago

Its not like Sram didnt warn them. And just because they are suing doesn’t mean that they are in it for blood. They may just make wolftooth and the others give credit where it is due. Companies have to defend their IP or they loose the right to defend it in the future.

Pistolero
Pistolero
6 years ago

– Those clearly copied SRAM, and they should pay SRAM. Shimano is not a thief, they had to eat dust and release their single rings that will need a chain guide to work properly, and loose money seeing customers move to SRAM 1x. These companies should loose money, just like shimano did. But shimano is Japanese, and they have ethic values, apparently, not like others.

– Funny that, in this article, it’s not mentioned that Specialized tried to buy Stan’s company with their pile of money obtained by marketing and customers with questionable taste and knowledge of the insustry, but Stan’s didn’t want to sell out to such people. And called their carbon wheels VALOR, in a joke to ROVAL by Specialized. Specialized is AN INDUSTRY BULLY.

Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen
6 years ago
Reply to  Pistolero

Shimano’s single ring solution offers CONSIDERABLY better chain retention than any narrow-wide solution. Have you even used it? You can engage four links of chain onto a Shimano 1x ring, then hang weights from it, then pull on those weights… A chain won’t come off a Shimano 1x ring period, except by engaging and disengaging the links in the normal course of operation.

Luiggi
Luiggi
6 years ago
Reply to  Eric Hansen

I have done the same with a Race Face N/W, one of the cheapest in the market. And I have witnessed the Shimano 1x come off a ring in the middle of a mild XC race. Everything is possible.

Longbeard
6 years ago
Reply to  Luiggi

I’m loyal to Stan’s because their wheels have NEVER given me issues. This coming from a guy that breaks everything I ride. Then again people have issues with everything in different ways. I think the Race Face N/W rings are pure trash. I’ve had nothing but chain-drop issues with them. I got dropped from the front group in multiple XC races and finally got fed up and went back to my 2x setup. I’m now on a Wolftooth ring and it works really well.

N
N
5 years ago
Reply to  Longbeard

I’ve had the same experience with RF NW when downhilling on my 29+. Put a Wolftooth on there and it never did it again.

goridebikes
goridebikes
6 years ago
Reply to  Eric Hansen

Vertical chain retention, and your chainring’s ability to lift are only part of the picture, bro.

Also, Pistolero you are sorely mistaken if you think ethics/values are why Shimano created their own 1x retention design; those had nothing to do with it. On the contrary, Shimano knows that they will be sued instantly for IP infringement…

Regarding Stan’s – overhyped mediocrity. Low spoke tension, rims that crack, sub-par bead retention, GARBAGE hub design… and yet so much loyalty all because they were the first to make tubeless mainstream.. Their BST is one of the few designs I have witnessed allow tires to blow off in situations where it surprised me (not the explosion, the fact that it happened) – and I set up a LOT of tubeless tires. Their hubs constantly develop play or wear out prematurely, and their rims are prone to sh*tty builds and failures..

On the plus side, the tubeless valves, sealant, and tape are EXCELLENT!

BikeShopGuy
BikeShopGuy
6 years ago
Reply to  goridebikes

Glad to see Someone call Stan’s out. Their wheels are delicate. Built light but not durable. And yes, their sealant does work.
“Overhyped mediocrity “! Love it !

anonymous
anonymous
6 years ago

Headline should have been Specialized loses lawsuit

Flatbiller
Flatbiller
6 years ago

IB4TL

That is all.

DeeEight
DeeEight
6 years ago

shimano actually invented and patented narrow-wide chainrings and cogs themselves forty odd years ago (albeit for garden tractors).

Sanchez
6 years ago

“Specialized will have to pay” strange… This makes me happy.

Bazz
Bazz
6 years ago

How to make friends, the Specialized way…

Sean
Sean
6 years ago

goridebikes should go ride your bike…. Stan’s wheels work better than anything out there, use the right rim for your purpose and don’t power wash the hubs….. you just saved yourself on average of 1000.00 and probably some weight…. Your tires work better and your bike is faster.

WannaBeSTi
WannaBeSTi
6 years ago
Reply to  Sean

Sean, I am one who doesn’t like most things “Stan’s”. Their rim tape is good, but I’ll have to stop their. “Stan” is a weight weenie first and foremost. He always does the lightest way first and re-engineers to correct mistakes. I’ve never liked the finish build on any wheel I’ve built with Stan’s rims. Recently, we’ve moved to Orange Seal for customer’s. Using the same amount of O.S. as we did Stan’s, we’re seeing fewer customer’s coming back for leaking issues.

However, I am happy Stan’s won against Specialized.

ed
ed
5 years ago

Odd that most if not all of stans patents seem to be rehashes of his first one.

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