The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Trek Bicycle Corporation a patent - number 7,837,213 - for their Active Braking Pivot (ABP) suspension system.
The move can be considered a major victory for Trek as it follows the issuing of a patent for Dave Weagle's similar Split Pivot design earlier this year.
"The way it was explained to me, was that the patent office issued the ABP patent over the Weagle [Split Pivot] patent," said Michael Browne, Trek's mountain bike brand manager. "Meaning they had Dave's design in front of them and said, ‘these are different systems that were developed independently of one another and at different times'."
The issuance of the Trek ABP patent recognizes, in the US government's eyes, that Trek and Weagle developed their similar systems separately, rather than one copying the other. Now that each design is patented, they're legally allowed to co-exist.
This is a win-win scenario for riders, who'll have more choices of suspension systems with the benefit of concentric rear pivots in 2011 and beyond.
According to Browne, getting the patent was tricky due to the thoroughness of the patent officer handling their application and the existence of the Weagle patent.
"We got a very particular person who required us go through quite a bit to provide all of the right evidence," he said. "I do know there were prototypes [that the patent office reviewed]. There were design files and a lot of engineers going back in their design folders to pull out all the original stuff."
Trek credits suspension engineers James Colegrove, Dylan Howes and Jose Gonzalez for the design. ABP is praised for its ability to effectively separate braking and suspension forces. This separation allows the suspension to remain active while the rear brake is engaged.
Trek's patent covers a concentric pivot in combination with varied types of rear suspension designs. ABP was first introduced to the marketplace in May 2007 and has since evolved to become the foundation of Trek's full-suspension bikes, offered on eight platforms to date.
This is Trek's second patent pertaining to the ABP suspension design; the first deals with how a derailleur mounts to the drive-side's concentric dropout pivot. The company has additional suspension patents pending, including one for their DCRV rear shock developed with, and produced by, Fox Racing Shox.
Split-Pivot patent owner Dave Weagle could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.