The Lawyers Always Win
Anyone remember when Never Summer won their patent on reverse camber and the snowboard world was a bit unsure what was going to happen next; what with Mervin talking about their double banana patent super awesome camber? Then nothing happened and the shred world went on with their lives like nothing happened. Well seems that lawyers are now involved with yet another camber dispute. This time though it’s between the industry giant Burton and the now defunct Inca Snowboards.
I first read this story on Boardistan which just rehashed the original article from the Rutland Herald. The article holds an excerpt from a letter sent by Inca to Burton where they threatened to go to court. Not exactly wise to take the biggest manufacturer in snowboarding to court.
The letter reads: “For example, the snowboards sold by your company that incorporate the ‘Burton Flying V’ and ‘Burton Camber Humps’ features appear to meet the limitations of several claims of the ‘562 patent. Similarly, the snowboards sold by your company that incorporate the ‘Negative Core Profile’ features appear to meet the limitations of several claims of the ‘483 patent. Consequently, INCA Empire would like to license the patented technology to your company on reasonable terms.”
If not, the letter stated that INCA would take the matter to court.
Instead of agreeing to those “reasonable terms,” Burton filed a lawsuit in Vermont federal court Friday.
Burton, the world’s largest snowboard maker, is asking the court to make a declaratory judgment that it did not infringe on any of INCA’s patents and that it sold snowboards with the features a year or more before the patents were even effective, making them invalid.
Burton is also asking to be compensated for court and attorneys’ fees.
Here’s the thing about Burton they aren’t small nor do they license a lot of technology from various companies. Think about how long it took them to get the Voile splitboard kits on their decks. What technology can you think of that they actively licensed verse just went their own route on?
In a legal battle honestly the only person that truly wins is the lawyers. Think about how much money they’ve probably made already for just sending some letters and what not. Now add in their fees if this goes to court and it’s going to add up. Burton definitely has some deep pockets and the patent owners from Inca aren’t hurting either.
Looking at this example of corporate bullshit in snowboarding it’s probably for the better that Never Summer and Mervin didn’t duke it out in court over their patent. As well as Never Summer not enforcing their patent on other brands. In the end Burton will probably come out ahead in this one. But the real question remains will this have repercussions down the road with other companies and patents?