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 Post subject: Splitboard Patents
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:20 am 
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What is patented in splitboard designs by Voile?
What needs to be licensed frome Voile?

say if I build a board that doesn't use any Voile hardware do I still have to pay up because its a "Splitboard"?

If I create a hardware system very different in design that te voile system do I have to pay up because its "splitboard" hardware?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:57 am 
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If you split any board, homemade job or not, you have to pay a fee...jk.

Voile's Hardware is their patent. The chinese hooks, slider plates, pucks, pins, rip/tail clips, and yin yang hooks. I think the chinese hooks and tip and tail hooks is where Burton ran into trouble with their interface. Pretty much exactly the same on their setup. Pretty hard to beat imo.

Your setup would have to be unique in comparision to Voile's.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 9:25 am 
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Funny.. I was just checking out that patentlast night...

Read through the claims section to see what is considered original thought. Make sure to click on the images button at the top of the page to see the throwback original art because it is fun.

If you create anything that builds off of Voile's patent claims, you'll have to take a license from them to commercialize it. (Unless you were to successfully challenge the patent's validity in court.) But Voile or anyone else couldn't commercialize your invention without taking a licence from you.

PS - You do pay a license fee on every homemade split when you buy the split kit from Voile. I'm sure it doesn't cost anywhere near $150 for Voile to manufacture a split kit. In the absence of a patent other companies could manufacture competing split kits and I'm sure the price would drop in half overnight.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:22 pm 
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Cool link SF. Those are fun images and it's an interesting read in an lawyerly/engineering/splitboard history sort of way.

If I am reading the info correctly it was patented on Nov. 16 1999. I think design patents are good for 14 years, so Voile enjoys patent protection until 2013.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:30 pm 
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I believe Voile has also patented the binding insert pattern. Probably under a separate patent since I didn't see anything about insert pattern in my quick scan of the files.

As an owner of a small semi-custom snowboard company, I have had a few requests for split boards. Upon contacting Voile about using their pattern, they confirmed that I would have to obtain a license from them.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed that they, "...are no longer licensing new manufacturers to use our hardware. ... We feel that with Voile, Burton, Winterstick, Prior, Never Summer, Venture and Unity already producing splitboards, the market is well covered."


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:52 pm 
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KnuckleDragger wrote:
We feel that with Voile, Burton, Winterstick, Prior, Never Summer, Venture and Unity already producing splitboards, the market is well covered."


I'm in the same boat, I got the same answer. I think it's a pretty weak answer myself. I bet they'd make more each year selling the kits and liscences than they would lose on selling a certain qty of boards. How many regular snowboard companies are out there? Bottom line w/ this, not everyone likes the same board.
I can understand trying to keep their share of the market but I think this attitude may hurt them in the end. Like someone else mentioned, the patent doesn't last forever.

That is just the way it is for now...
does every aftermarket car parts company have to pay out to make a part for a Honda? I doubt it...


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:57 pm 
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Yeah, that does seem a little weak to me too. I guess they are trying to protect the market for spitboards, by trying to ensure it's not over saturated. Which could be very easy to do. Still with the fee for liscensing their product, Voile boards are going to be the best bargain. No one is going to have a board for much under $1k with the the fee. In that respect they should just charge for the liscense, make that much more money and let the market figure itself out.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:12 pm 
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I was looking at very small volume - maybe a handful of boards a year and was hoping to be able to license the use of the pattern on a per board basis. For every board I make they would get a license fee (I guess that would be more like a royalty) plus they they would sell a set of their hardware. It doesn't really sound like a loosing proposition for them.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:31 pm 
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KnuckleDragger wrote:
I was looking at very small volume - maybe a handful of boards a year and was hoping to be able to license the use of the pattern on a per board basis. For every board I make they would get a license fee (I guess that would be more like a royalty) plus they they would sell a set of their hardware. It doesn't really sound like a loosing proposition for them.


That is how I see it. I would guess with that sort of model, you would have to pay a premium, but hey I am not in the manufacturing or supply business. Voile owns the patent so they do have the right to sell the product in the way they best see fit.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 4:21 pm 
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Dave - the USPTO site is really fun for dorks like myself. I could spend hours digging through this stuff. If you search for snowboard bindings you'll find all sorts of wild ideas with jewels like the K2 and Shimano clicker patents mixed in.

This is my personal favorite image, from a 1993 Burton patent for a releasable snowboard binding:
Image

Rad, huh?

The splitboard patent should be a utility patent with a 20-year life span. Design patents do live for fourteen years, but they are for ornamental, not functional designs. So Voile can enjoy selling $150 split kits through 2019...

I didn't find any other patents assigned to Voile or invented by Mark Wariakois. Patent claim #4 is really broad, covering any two planks joined together into a snowboard by hooks and binding assemblies. So maybe you have to take a license to create any component of that system, including boards designed to accept the Voile interface. I'm not a patent lawyer so I couldn't really tell you...

I've always thought that it was forward-thinking for Voile to license to other companies. Voile boards will always have a price advantage and they make $$ off boards sold by other manufacturers. Licensing puts a greater quantity of shapes on the market which helps expand the overall market by offering more variety. Maybe they are limiting the licensing to control the quality of the products out there or something. It is also possible that they are limiting the concession so that they are able to demand a lump-sum payment for license renewal, in addition to royalties and hardware sales. Nice business to be in...

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 4:49 pm 
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I love Voile's interface system & I had the Burton interface previously so it's a vast improvement over that. However; if someone came up with a completely new split system - especially 1 that shaved a lb or 2 off the Voile set-up it would overall help advance the sport for everyone. Look at all the AT bindings out there & each improvement just sparks that much more interest & improvement overall.

I've been told by a few lawyerly types that a person can expect to pay $50K to obtain a patent and that the legal end of obtaining a patent is crucial & should only be handled by a legal specialist in that field. I'm not trying to rain on your parade but I guess that's just the reality of it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:43 am 
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It looks like you could get around this patent. The claims appear to cover:
1) sliding connection system for the board (claim 1 & all dependent claims)
2) hooks (claim 4 & all dependent claims)
3) sliding base plate (claim 6)

You just need a system that avoids the sliding base plate and the hooks. Though I'd guess that burton has a patent on their camming solution. It looks like burton could have gotten around the voile patent by simply replacing the hooks on their old system with some sort of camming system or latching system or something of that type.


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 Post subject: xxx
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:21 am 
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dont forget the patent of 3 pice ...


Das Tourensnowboard - System t3 hat internationalen Patentschutz

Europäische Patentanmeldung PCT/EP97/05868





burton

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