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producing new bike parts / patent ???

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producing new bike parts / patent ???

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Old 10-16-12, 01:47 PM
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triathloner 
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producing new bike parts / patent ???

So I am going to ask here because everyone knows us C&V'ers know it all. If I wanted to produce a few bike parts for a little extra cash, maybe even set up a website selling something like fenders or racks for bikes, etc. how do I find out if I am infringing on any patents out there. I feel like most or all patents for bikes are shared. My products would not be copies of others, and would be considered custom I am thinking. What do you think?
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Old 10-16-12, 02:09 PM
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If you're doing small scale stuff and not duplicating any particularly unique design, I'd just go for it. Just don't copy any look or feature used by Specialized, because they'll sue you.

I'm no expert, but I feel like big companies usually send a cease+desist letter if you're messing with their stuff. Then you could, uh, cease and desist. Or hire a lawyer. Your choice.
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Old 10-16-12, 02:11 PM
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You can do subject matter searching on Google Patents. For small parts you're probably okay.
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Old 10-16-12, 02:30 PM
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Just don't make any money, or someone will sue you.
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Old 10-16-12, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by delcrossv View Post
You can do subject matter searching on Google Patents. For small parts you're probably okay.
Part of product design today (needed but rarely contributing to the final product) is often a patent search. To avoid stepping on an existing patent.
Some patents are so wide ranging that they are not really ultimately defensible, The Klein oversized aluminum tube frame is an example of a notorious one.
The Specialized vs. Volagi Case is interesting too.
Much of what has been done in bicycles was patented but long long ago and the patents have expired.
Bicycle Science is a worthwhile book to pick up, amazing the ideas from way back, some of which just needed better materials.
Think of the Suntour slant parallelogram rear derailleur and the basic design of the "differential" brake caliper, designs that became almost universal after the patents expired.

For simple parts, like fenders, the patent areas might be on the brace hardware for example.
But I am probably reaching. Seat post saddle clamps have been patented now and again.

There is plenty of need out there, think of Paul components, Phil Wood & Co. Bullseye (Durham Cycles), Hi-E, all companies that are still going or had a good run and faded for other reasons than demand.
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Old 10-16-12, 03:27 PM
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Nahhhhhhh, law, schmaw, go for it! What could possibly go wrong?
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Old 10-16-12, 04:58 PM
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Anything that is currently covered by a patent will have a patent number on it or will say patent pending. Without those marks, it is not covered, period.

If it has a number, it is easy to determine when the patent expires by doing a search on the number itself.

If it says patent pending, that can be harder to find. First, there is no guarantee it will be granted a patent. You also need to search through applications instead of issued patents. I'd recommend searching by assignee name instead of inventor. The assignee is typically the corporate entity producing the part.
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Old 10-16-12, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by triathloner View Post
So I am going to ask here because everyone knows us C&V'ers know it all. If I wanted to produce a few bike parts for a little extra cash, maybe even set up a website selling something like fenders or racks for bikes, etc. how do I find out if I am infringing on any patents out there. I feel like most or all patents for bikes are shared. My products would not be copies of others, and would be considered custom I am thinking. What do you think?
could you make me some new hangers for my c-record rear derailleur
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Old 10-17-12, 12:18 PM
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I don't have the full on machine shop to do major work, such as the mentioned derailleur hangers. I have torches, and tig welder and have been playing around with racks, I have build a couple for myself so far and like the way they came out. Just dreaming a little, who knows, it may pay off and it may not. Worse case scenario I have bettered my skills a little and lost only money on materials. I do have a press and have been thinking of makin some bid dies to make some pressed fenders, tho that project is a little farther off. Thanks for the replies.
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Old 10-17-12, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Anything that is currently covered by a patent will have a patent number on it or will say patent pending. Without those marks, it is not covered, period.
not exactly.
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Old 10-17-12, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by triathloner View Post
I don't have the full on machine shop to do major work, such as the mentioned derailleur hangers. I have torches, and tig welder and have been playing around with racks, I have build a couple for myself so far and like the way they came out. Just dreaming a little, who knows, it may pay off and it may not. Worse case scenario I have bettered my skills a little and lost only money on materials. I do have a press and have been thinking of makin some bid dies to make some pressed fenders, tho that project is a little farther off. Thanks for the replies.
At one time there was a video of Honjo making fenders, think more English Wheel.
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Old 10-17-12, 01:45 PM
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Are you having your racks plated after welding? Painted? Anodized?
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Old 10-17-12, 02:00 PM
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fenders are really difficult to get right and racks are a lot of work. Most framebuilders will only make racks for people that buy frames because of that.

Patent searches are a soul destroying sort of thing. If you are copying something that was made 50 years ago, you are pretty safe as long as you don't use someone else's logo
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Old 10-17-12, 02:04 PM
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Speaking of rear racks...

One patent issue with rear racks has to do with Blackburn (now owned by Bell Sports). A long time ago they went after a large parts distributor based in FL for copyright infringement because their rear rack looked too much like the Blackburn MTN-1. Note that many brands of rear racks on the market today (Jandd, Tranz-it, etc.) don't look anything like Blackburn; there's a reason for that.

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Old 10-17-12, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bkj View Post
not exactly.
Yes. Exactly. No such thing as a "secret" patent.

And if the patent runs out and you keep your patent on the product, you get sued.
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Old 10-17-12, 07:37 PM
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What about patent leather?
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Old 10-17-12, 07:49 PM
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I would recommend talking to an attorney who specializes in these matters. You would do well to do things correctly on the front end to avoid unnecessary trouble and expense.
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Old 10-17-12, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Yes. Exactly. No such thing as a "secret" patent..
The US system does have secrets. Until 2011 the US is based on first to invent. So all you had to do is come up with an invention, document it such as publishing, and then file for a patent later. You get the patent even though someone else filed and received a patent before you. That changed last year when the US went with the rest of the world to the first to file system.
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Old 10-17-12, 08:31 PM
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Interesting. I have a tool design I'm putting the money together to file for a patent on, and from what I've been able to glean, much depends on how deep everyone's pockets are. I'm also sketching up a design for a derailleur, designed to handle a quite large mid-range tooth jump. As a bonus, I think I can keep it around 100 grams. Negatively, it would require a chainstay mounting.
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Old 10-17-12, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Captain Blight View Post
Interesting. I have a tool design I'm putting the money together to file for a patent on, and from what I've been able to glean, much depends on how deep everyone's pockets are. I'm also sketching up a design for a derailleur, designed to handle a quite large mid-range tooth jump. As a bonus, I think I can keep it around 100 grams. Negatively, it would require a chainstay mounting.
Suntour did a chainstay-mount derailleur shortly before it went belly-up in the early '90's:
http://www.disraeligears.co.uk/Site/...28S100%29.html
http://www.disraeligears.co.uk/Site/...28S120%29.html
Note that these articles include the text of the U.S. patents and point to "prior art"- similar systems from days of yore.
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Old 10-18-12, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
The US system does have secrets. Until 2011 the US is based on first to invent. So all you had to do is come up with an invention, document it such as publishing, and then file for a patent later. You get the patent even though someone else filed and received a patent before you. That changed last year when the US went with the rest of the world to the first to file system.
I understand the change in law, i went to a seminar about it earlier this year.

But we were discussing products on the market, not products that haven't been made public. And technically, those "secret" products do not have a patent, so again, no such thing as a secret patent.
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Old 10-18-12, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Captain Blight View Post
Interesting. I have a tool design I'm putting the money together to file for a patent on, and from what I've been able to glean, much depends on how deep everyone's pockets are. I'm also sketching up a design for a derailleur, designed to handle a quite large mid-range tooth jump. As a bonus, I think I can keep it around 100 grams. Negatively, it would require a chainstay mounting.
The key to any patent are the independent claims. Everything else is pretty irrelevant. And a narrow independent claim is nearly worthless.

All said and done, you can get a utility patent for $3000-$7000. The real money comes defending your patent. Cease and desist letters are essentially free and work 95% of the time. The other 5% will cost you.
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Old 10-18-12, 07:12 AM
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I hold several US patents both work and personal related and IMHO if your gig is custom racks I wouldn’t worry about patent infringement at all at this point. Don’t copy special adaptations of commercial quick release gadgets etc. as they may have current protection and you will be fine. If you somehow in the process of designing and building these rack you come up with something so new and different you feel it is the first of its kind and is something that the idea not the rack is a commercial item, then you should look into patent protection for yourself. Most people hire a patent attorney at that point to search and file for your invention. Plan on spending 10 grand and up to get your protection. With all the on line stuff USPTO.gov and even Google you can now do a lot of preliminary searching yourself and possibly save yourself a lot of money in the case of finding out your invention is already claimed, or that your claim will be so narrow it won’t be worth pursuing as someone else could work around it with a slight change. You can also patent useful improvements to others inventions. After it’s all said and done you are only covered by US law and the rest of the world will run fast and loose with your invention and it will cost you more than any individual can afford to fight it.

From a legal aspect I would be more concerned with liability. Racks and fenders are a fairly safe bet I would think. If and when they would fail you may have an upset customer but I don’t see high risk.

I say if you want to start a little cottage business go for it that’s what I would do. I’m just a guy that enjoys bikes and believes in free enterprise and these are my thoughts on what I would do and my 2 cents worth.

Here is the kind of vintage stuff you will be looking at. There are 1000’s of them going back to the beginning of bicycles.

http://www.google.com/patents/US1963...page&q&f=false
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Old 10-19-12, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Captain Blight View Post
Interesting. I have a tool design I'm putting the money together to file for a patent on, and from what I've been able to glean, much depends on how deep everyone's pockets are. I'm also sketching up a design for a derailleur, designed to handle a quite large mid-range tooth jump. As a bonus, I think I can keep it around 100 grams. Negatively, it would require a chainstay mounting.
Haha, that's actually kinda funny to me, because this morning on the train I was sketching designs for a chainstay mounted derailleur. Not because I'm unhappy with the performance of the one I have, or that I need it to handle a wide range of cogs, but because it is a complete and total pain in the derriere when it comes to removing and re-installing the wheel. On the plus side, I have got pretty good at patching tubes without removing the wheel.

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Old 10-19-12, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
What about patent leather?
Boots for the ladies.......
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