slowster wrote:reohn2 wrote:gregoryoftours wrote:I wonder how long it'll be before Mr Jones gets wind of it and shuts it down again.
I'm always puzzled as to how he can,how do you patent such a thing as a handlebar shape
As I understand it patent law in the US is different to the UK, in that you do not need to prove that your invention meets all the requirements to get a patent. Instead the validity/strength of the patent is only effectively confirmed if the patent holder takes someone to court for copying their innovation. The court then makes the judgement on the merits of the patent (whether the innovation was sufficiently novel etc.) and decides if the patent is valid and should be enforced by the court. In the UK (and Europe?) it is more difficult to get a patent because it is necessary to convince the patent office first of the merits of the application.
There's a thread on this on Singletrackworld, and one poster has pointed out that there is Design Rights protection in the EU, which would probably apply, but only if the product were launched in the EU (which was never likely given that Jeff Jones is based in the US).
As for the implication that Mr Jones is a wealthy powerful person who is able to use his lawyers to get the sale of the copies stopped, the reality is that up until a few years ago Jeff Jones was a one man band, and I think that even now he only has a few employees. Similarly the UK/EU importer and distributor is a one man operation. There is probably zero likelihood of them being able and willing to afford a legal battle with Planet X, which is a much larger business. It's true that previously Alpkit started to sell a copy of the Jones bars and stopped doing so, but I believe that was not down to any threats from Jeff Jones. I think it was simply pointed out to them that they were selling a knock-off of the Jones bars (something which they might not have fully appreciated, because the bars are apparently a 'catalogue' item being offered by a chinese manufacturer), and so they decided to stop selling them because they presumably felt it was wrong to sell a knock-off of someone else's design (something which Alpkit probably felt more keenly because they are themselves a relatively small company).
But I guess that imagining, with no actual grounds for doing so, that Jeff Jones is a rich businessman with expensive lawyers makes it easier in some people's minds to justify purchasing a knock-off copy of his handlebar design. You might not feel quite so comfortable and pleased with yourself at having got a bargain if you knew that it was just a small business, and that the damage to the business caused by the widespread copying of his design might mean that he would have to make employees redundant.
Ultimately there's an important issue at stake here, which is how much protection is given to those who innovate, which is becoming more sharply defined as a result of the vast manufacturing capability of China and the weakness of Intellectual Property laws in China, with the result that unscrupulous importers like Planet X can buy copies of almost anything. Indeed, it would not surprise me if Planet X made its decision to buy the bars knowing that Jeff Jones was too small to have any comeback, whereas they would not do so if the product being copied was from the likes of Specialized (whose lawyers went so far as to order a bike shop to change its name from Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio, because Specialized had trademarked 'Roubaix' in the USA and Canada).
As it stands, it looks like the playing field is skewed against the small innovator in favour of large wealthy corporations. Small innovators often have to take major risks in investing their time and money to develop their designs and bring them to market. If they find that their products are rapidly copied, then that will deter them, and innovation will increasingly be confined to the mega corporations - in other words, it will be stifled. Because, although various aspects of Jeff Jones' designs have been seen before, in many respects he went against the flow of current bicycle design to produce bikes that are a relatively unique combination of those various aspects, including the bars. He developed his products not by sitting at a CAD machine, but over many years by a process of progressive experimentation to find the optimum design. If he had not come up with the design of his bars, I doubt they would exist: the major handlebar and component manufacturers would probably never have been interested in spending time and money developing such bars and bringing them to market.
I know that Jeff Jones is not a rich and powerful individual. He does however have highly questionable judgement with regard to facial hair. I underestimated the difficulty and expense of legal action in relation to patents, and assumed that the several similar versions of Jones bars that have been and gone over the years have been due to his threatening legal action.
I would consider buying some Jones bars if I lived in the States and didn't have to pay the overly inflated price they are here. It's too much for many people to pay to get a slight variation of the many examples of extreme sweep bars that exist, (which is what I'm using them for, rather than the loop) and run the risk of not getting on with them. Many people I guess are of the same mind, hence my comment, which was meant more along the lines of 'bummer for us' rather than being especially angry at Mr Jones.
I find it hard to believe that Alpkit were unaware that they had ordered Jones bar design copies.
I have 2 Jones bars that I bought second hand, neither of which I would pay full UK retail for despite liking them.
I don't feel bad for buying some planet X knockoffs to see how they compare and to use on other bikes. I'm not doing Mr Jones out of some sales because I'd never buy them new; I suspect that most people who buy the cheap ones will be the same, and I doubt that many of Mr Jones' potential customers would touch planet X with a barge pole! The Jones bars are better made and lighter, and in the case of the 'm' bar the planet X version is a bit narrower and a slightly shallower angle of sweep.