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SRAM Suing Hayes For Patent Infringement

Published October 27, 2009

CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN)—SRAM has sued Hayes Bicycle Group claiming that the company’s Stroker hydraulic disc brake infringe on one of SRAM’s patents.

Stroker disc brakes were introduced in spring 2007, and hit the market later that year. The Stroker line of brakes include the Stroker Gram (pictured), Stroker Ace, Stroker Carbon, Stroker Trail and Stroker Ryde. SRAM filed suit in U.S. District Court in Illinois on Monday.

While Hayes Bicycle Group general manager Darren Campbell declined to discuss the lawsuit, he said Hayes is “very mindful of the intellectual property” of its competitors. “We do our due diligence,” Campbell added.

SRAM’s director of corporate development Brian Benzer told Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, “SRAM has filed a patent lawsuit against the HB Stroker brake lineup. SRAM’s policy is to respect other’s intellectual property and we expect the same from our competitors. Our next step is to engage in discussions and exchange information with Hayes with respect to this matter.”

According to the suit, SRAM claims that Hayes “knew of SRAM’s patented technology relating to hydraulic disc brake mechanisms, including its 414 patent. SRAM called the alleged infringement “willful and deliberate.”

The 414 patent filed April 19, 2007 and issued July 14, 2009 was an invention of Wayne Lumpkin—Avid’s founder who now owns majority interest of Spot Brand. SRAM bought Avid in 2004. The patent covers symmetric master cylinder levers that may be placed on either the right or left portion of a handlebar without effecting the master cylinder’s operation.

Master cylinder levers are designed to mount on either the right side or left side of the handlebar, but not both. This requires manufacturers to have two sets of tooling, increasing manufacturing costs and complexity. In addition, manufacturers and lever suppliers must order sufficient right and left master cylinder levers to meet demands and maintain inventories of both right and left levers; that increases stocking requirements over what would be required if a single lever could be used on the right or left side of the handlebar.

SRAM is seeking unspecified damages from Hayes and has demanded that Hayes stop manufacturing and selling Stroker brakes.

—Jason Norman

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