A pioneer of aerodynamics who last year patented the design of a bicycle downtube that has a recess to minimise the drag caused by a water bottle has repeated his claim that Pinarello has infringed his intellectual property rights.
Victor Major, who secured the patent through his business Velocite, told BikeBiz last year that he was open to licencing the design to bicycle manufacturers.
But following today’s launch of the Pinarello Dogma F10, which will be used by Team Sky in the coming UCI WorldTour season and which has a recess in the downtube, Major went on the attack.
In an open letter published on the Velocite website, he catalogued the history of his correspondence with Pinarello, and made it clear that he believes the Italian bike manufacturer has copied his design.
He wrote: “Finding out who owns what patent is not that simple and in [the] bicycle industry perhaps it is not the norm to investigate the intellectual property space before forging ahead with a new design.
“However, with the new Dogma F10 your use of our intellectual property is deliberate. You know it belongs to us. You were notified. You chose not to engage with us.”
He added, “What do you expect should happen next?” and suggested that Pinarello contact his lawyers.
We have asked Pinarello, a controlling stake in which was bought last month by a private equity firm backed by French luxury goods firm LVMH, for their response to his claims.
Here’s the full text of the letter.
I am personally flattered that you like my concave downtube design so much that you used it not only on the Bolide TT frame, but also on the just released Dogma F10 frame. If we had not patented the concave downtube design I would have indeed been very flattered that a noted bicycle brand like yours chose to use our design, thus validating the year of development that I personally put into it. Alas, we actually hold three patents on the concave downtube design. One patent is a design patent in China (ZL2015 2 0139826.6), one is a design patent in Taiwan (D 170607) and then there is the main one, an invention patent valid for 20 years also granted in Taiwan (I562931). Both Taiwan and China are signatories to WIPO, just like Italy.
I initially alerted you to this issue in May 2016 once I observed our design and associated aerodynamic performance claim on the Bolide TT bike, only to be met with complete silence until July when three members of your engineering team checked out my LinkedIn profile for some reason (July 16th to be exact). They did not talk to me, or anyone in our company. I guess visiting my LinkedIn profile was deemed sufficient.
Our law firm sent you a letter on 21st of July 2016 formally notifying you of our concerns regarding your use of our intellectual property without ever discussing its fair use with us. Your law firm replied on the 4th of August and stated that owing to the long August holidays in Italy that you will be able to reply to us “no earlier than mid of September 2016.” Well it is now January 10th 2017 and there is still no response to our concerns. Instead today you released your second model that uses our intellectual property, the new Pinarello Dogma F10.
I find this personally upsetting, both because this is my personal work that you decided to claim for your own and because we could never establish any meaningful dialogue with you regarding fair, or compensated use of our intellectual property. I could understand that perhaps you used our intellectual property by accident when you made the new Bolide TT. After all finding out who owns what patent is not that simple and in bicycle industry perhaps it is not the norm to investigate the intellectual property space before forging ahead with a new design. However, with the new Dogma F10 your use of our intellectual property is deliberate. You know it belongs to us. You were notified. You chose not to engage with us. What do you expect should happen next?
Thus, I hope that this letter encourages you to at least talk to us about the use of our intellectual property. You can either contact our law firm whose details you have, or you can find me on LinkedIn just like you found me before, or even use a contact form on our website here: Contact us
CEO, Velocite Tech. Co Ltd
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.