Cervelo downplay significance of European patent dispute

Canyon claim Canadians copied some of their tube shapes

An article recently posted on the Bike Europe web site has worried many Cervélo supporters, owners and dealers over an alleged patent violation but company principal Gerard Vroomen claims the article is "much ado about nothing" and suggests that Bike Europe "got most of the facts wrong."

Bike Europe's article claims that the European Patent Office has ruled that Cervélo's pre-2011 RS, R3, and R3 SL frame designs violate German patents owned by Canyon Bicycles GmbH. It apparently pertains to some of the tube shapes commonly used by both brands. Complicating matters is Cervélo's relationship with former German distributor TriDynamic GmbH.

Resulting from the earlier ruling in a German district court, TriDynamic had issued a letter to its former dealers announcing "The recall of all frames and wheels series Cervélo RS, R3 and R3 SL which were put on the market since January 9th 2008.” Further, TriDynamic had requested that dealers contact the former distributor to arrange for return shipment.

However, Cervélo has since issued a statement claiming the hearing at the European Patent Office hasn't even occurred yet – it is currently scheduled for November 24 – and moreover, suggests the dispute has at least some roots in a soured business relationship between Cervélo and TriDynamic.

"Cervélo discontinued doing business with Peter Seyberth and TriDynamic in August of 2009 as a result of what we believed were serious irregularities in his business practices," the statement reads. "Cervélo is taking legal action against TriDynamic and Peter Seyberth for funds which are believed to have been withheld while he was the Cervélo distributor. It may be appropriate to see some of TriDynamic's statements regarding Cervélo and its products in this light.”

"Initially Cervélo included TriDynamic in the defence in the German court, but public statements by Peter Seyberth were disruptive and unnecessary, and have made a common defence difficult," the statement continued. "As a result of this untenable relationship, the German law firm withdrew their representation of TriDynamic after the German lower court decision in September and advised him immediately.”

"As a result of Cervélo's appeal of the court decision, the requirements of the decision were not automatically enforceable against Cervélo. Canyon has exercised its right to enforce part of the decision in demanding certain information from Cervélo. TriDynamic did not appeal the court decision and therefore the court order is immediately enforceable against them."

Cervélo's statement even goes so far as to suggest it is appealing the validity of Canyon's German patent.

"Cervélo believes very strongly that the patent should be invalid due to prior use and obviousness. It is a combination of features which is believed to be known publicly for many years before the patent application and more recently in very common use by many manufacturers."

Regardless of the outcome, Cervélo says the issue will have virtually no effect on dealers or its own finances. According to Cervélo, the recently redesigned R-Series frames aren't affected and while the German court ruling requires TriDynamic to reveal information about orders and dealers and to request the return of affected stock purchased from the distributor,. Dealers are not specifically named in the action and are not obliged to comply – in effect, also rendering null any effect on consumers.

As of time of publication, Canyon had not returned requests for comment.

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