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Speedplay's Legal Goon Squad

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Speedplay's Legal Goon Squad

22 Jan 2011 18:06

Speedplay has been harrassing a man who sells rebuild kits on eBay. It looks like Speedplay wants people to buy their overpriced kits instead of buying standard bearings. You have to read a bit into the thread because Speedplay bullied the OP into deleting his posts.

http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=80010

This looks to be a long standing tactic with them. I can remember back in the day when they refused to let anyone sell their pedals if they also sold another pedal. I think it was Beebop. They did their best to drive the company out of business.
"Listen, my son. Trust no one! You can count on no one but yourself. Improve your skills, son. Harden your body. Become a number one man. Do not ever let anyone beat you!" -- Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken
User avatar BroDeal
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22 Jan 2011 21:25

I've still got love for Look pedals since they were born in the 80's, the 80's.
User avatar washedup
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22 Jan 2011 22:03

BroDeal wrote:Speedplay has been harrassing a man who sells rebuild kits on eBay. It looks like Speedplay wants people to buy their overpriced kits instead of buying standard bearings. You have to read a bit into the thread because Speedplay bullied the OP into deleting his posts.

http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=80010

This looks to be a long standing tactic with them. I can remember back in the day when they refused to let anyone sell their pedals if they also sold another pedal. I think it was Beebop. They did their best to drive the company out of business.


they learned that from the beast, Specialized.
User avatar Boeing
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23 Jan 2011 00:06

If my flagship product were a pedal with no platform and a silly float philosophy, I wouldn't want my customers to be trying out other pedals, either.
ergmonkey
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23 Jan 2011 00:55

BroDeal wrote:Speedplay has been harrassing a man who sells rebuild kits on eBay. It looks like Speedplay wants people to buy their overpriced kits instead of buying standard bearings. You have to read a bit into the thread because Speedplay bullied the OP into deleting his posts.

http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=80010

This looks to be a long standing tactic with them. I can remember back in the day when they refused to let anyone sell their pedals if they also sold another pedal. I think it was Beebop. They did their best to drive the company out of business.


I don't understand what pull they have in this? You don't have to buy repair parts from the mfg of what you're trying to repair. Pure bullying...

Well, I've been itching to try either the new shimano DA or Time iclics anyway.
richwagmn
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23 Jan 2011 01:52

i live in OC and my team is sponsored by them. they suck,imo.
User avatar usedtobefast
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23 Jan 2011 04:20

After reading all that I feel like sending speedplay an invoice for my loss on investment after buying a set of speedplays and then selling them two months later when I realised they were crap.
User avatar M Sport
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23 Jan 2011 04:58

washedup wrote:I've still got love for Look pedals since they were born in the 80's, the 80's.


I dont think there is much business for look rebuild kits.The platform will wear out before the bearings.The new keo's have a stainless steel plate so i guess they will last forever.
simo1733
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23 Jan 2011 05:17

I took the time to read all the posts on WWs. I don't understand the position of Speedplay in regards to the thread. You would think they would be happy that people are praising their product and taking the time to rebuild and continue to use, spreading the love. I would like to read the original letter though in regards to some of the facts.

Must admit I have never used their products. Love my '04 Look carbon pedals.
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23 Jan 2011 08:23

M Sport wrote:After reading all that I feel like sending speedplay an invoice for my loss on investment after buying a set of speedplays and then selling them two months later when I realised they were crap.


Yes, they are crap...that's why Fab and a million other pro riders use them...they like crap.

ergmonkey wrote:If my flagship product were a pedal with no platform and a silly float philosophy, I wouldn't want my customers to be trying out other pedals, either.


LOVE your scientific rationalisation here, do tell when your next Nobel Prize winning dissertation is coming out...i look forward with great anticipation. Meanwhile I know physio's who have expertise in treating cyclists, and guess which pedal they recommend for those with knee problems. Yes it's those crappy speedplays with a silly float mechanism :rolleyes:

So as you can probably tell i really like my speedplays, BUT fair enough it sounds like they're throwing their weight around now that they have some market presence; which is not always an attractive thing to do, but is pretty common really, from Shimano to Apple, we see it all the time.
GilTeamS&M wrote:I for one make well never done have when divide exercise with cycle babes on bikes. Yes, no?
Dewulf
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23 Jan 2011 12:57

Let's not turn this into a pedal debate. All brands suck and are the greatest depending on who you ask. If a product really sucked then it would not be in the cycling market for too long. Speedplay's behaviour does suck and that is the issue. Most large companies behave badly...that sucks.
Cheers...Daryl

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23 Jan 2011 13:34

The latest from the WW thread:
frikinspit wrote:After careful consideration I have decided to post the letter. You can then decide for yourself which side to take. Just put yourself in my shoes when you read this letter. It is very disheartening. Especially to me. I have 3 kids. One in college, one in high school and an adopted son who is severely disabled and in need my (and my wife, who takes most of the responsibilities of care) constant care. I cannot just up and file a class-action law suit against Speedplay. I would really like to on several grounds, but my family life is more important to me than fighting this, albiet worthy cause.

So... here is the letter in red letters (misspelled words and improper punctuation are verbatim). I have omitted personal information and website direct links.


My name and my wife’s name
My home address

Dear Mr. and/or Mrs. (my name), a/k/a “Frikinspit”:

We represent Speedplay, Inc. (“Speedplay”) with regard to its intellectual property matters.

I have reviewed various postings on the Internet which you have made, including (They name this WW post as well as eBay auctions here)

It appears that you are offering products for sale or actually selling products that infringe upon one or more of Speedplay's intellectual property or other legal rights, including, but not limited to, "(My ebay auctions listed individually here)"

It is clear that despite referring to Speedplay as "(Brand X - lollipop shaped pedals)" in your offerings, you are selling and offering to sell a material component part of one or more inventions patented by Speedplay--namely, its patented Speedplay bicycle pedals, covered by at least U.S. Patent Nos. 7,174,807, 6,494,117, and 5,546,829. These cleat/pedal systems cannot be made without the material component of the part you are selling, i.e., the uniquely shaped bowties, spindles, and bowtie bolts, that work together with the rest of the cleat/pedal systems. These parts fit into the pedal and become a complete, unique Speedplay pedal. That unique pedal is then used with the unique Speedplay cleat system. Moreover, the parts cannot be used with any other brand of pedal parts and the pedals cannot be used with any other brand of cleat systems. Finally, there is no substantial non-infringing use of the product you are selling and offering for sale. This violates 35 U.S.C. Section 271(c).

In addition, one of your customers (or with your instructions) could buy this component part from you and, buying component parts from others, essentially build and sell a patented Speedplay product. This violates 35 U.S.C. Section 271(b).

In addition, a customer's replacement and use of your non-conforming "after-market" parts would void the Speedplay warranty on its pedal system and your failure to advertise that fact causes your advertisement of your parts to be misleading in violation of numerous state and federal statutes.

Finally, we do not believe the evidence would show that you have sufficiently tested or constructed the replacement parts for safety and reliability such that consumers using the products would be safe. Customers using such replacement parts on their bicycles might assume they would be as safe as using OEM parts on a Speedplay pedal system and we do not believe this to be true. We have examined your parts and find that the screws that you sell (and perhaps manufacture) do not meet either manufacturing or safety requirements specified by Speedplay. You do not explain this deficiency or difference in your advertising of your product.

As a result, we believe your advertising not only to be misleading, but to be in violation of numerous state and federal consumer safety laws. Customers who were to purchase and use your replacement parts in Speedplay pedals, and then have their pedals damaged or worse, be injured, may make claims against or sue Speedplay, which would necessitate Speedplay defending those claims and seeking indemnity from you including its attorneys' fees and costs.

We demand that you immediately cease and desist from selling, offering for sale, or advertising your after-market products on the Internet or otherwise in any manner that violates Speedplay's trademark, patent, and other intellectual property rights, as well as statutory and common law rights, including consumer rights to safety and protection. We also insist that you take down from eBay or any other Web sites all references to Speedplay or its products as currently referenced. If you fail to do so, Speedplay will seek all appropriate remedies available to it under the appropriate federal and state statutes and common law. Regardless of whether you choose to cease and desist in your present conduct, we also demand that you now preserve and maintain all copies of any paper or electronic records or documents relating to this dispute, including e-mails, letters, communications, memoranda, and Web sites and eBay pages and caches, including all metadata, that relate to or concern any manufacture, distribution, licensing, advertising, marketing, attempted sale, or sale of any titanium, aluminum, steel, or other replacement or "after-market" part for any Speedplay product (or any other purported substitute for a Speedplay product in whole), including communications you or your company (if any) have had with any manufacturer, distributer, wholesaler, or seller of titanium, aluminum, steel, or any other replacement or "after-market" party for any Speedplay or "Speedplay-type" product (or any other purported substitute for a Speedplay product in whole) since August 1, 2009.

This letter is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, a complete statement of the facts or of our rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.

Sincerely,
(Speedplay lawyer info and signature)

"Listen, my son. Trust no one! You can count on no one but yourself. Improve your skills, son. Harden your body. Become a number one man. Do not ever let anyone beat you!" -- Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken
User avatar BroDeal
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23 Jan 2011 13:37

And frikinspit's response to the letter's contents. Check out the WW thread for other people's experience with Speedplay.

frikinspit wrote:I have never, nor do I ever, plan to manufacture any parts for Speedplay pedals. Everything I have ever sold for Speedplay pedals has been off-the-shelf bearings and screws from brick and mortar stores like Grainger, McMaster Carr, Tacoma Screw, Greybar. EVERY one of these bearings, o-rings, retaining rings and screws can also be found online anywhere bearings are sold. Furthermore, I only sold a few sets a week. Am I putting them out of business selling a few rebuild parts? I think this letter coming into public light is much more of an issue. Good instructions and rebuildability, I think would increase usage and in turn increase future new pedal sales.

At any of those stores you can buy everything needed for a rebuild for around $30-$40. If you buy in quantity you can lower the cost to around $20. If you buy in large volume, like Speedplay, the cost will be closer to around $10. Last time I checked with Speedplay, a few years ago, a rebuild on my X1 pedals including shipping both ways was around $125. That also included the pedal body. What does that cost them? $5? The pedal body is not a ‘wear part’ like bearings. I have a set of X1 pedals with over 50000 miles on them and just rebuilt they function and feel just like a new set I have on one of my other bikes. True, you would have to replace the body if it were damaged, but other than that there is no need to replace a body. Even a very worn out body, with new bearings and bowties will function as new. Speedplay would contend that the spring from the cleat uses the body to release itself (on the X1,2 &5), but I have had no problems with release point on even the most worn out pedal bodies. Zeros and Light Action use a small metal tab just below the bowtie to actuate the release and that IS a wear part.

Their website states that the pedals are easily rebuildable with common tools. Does this not imply that one could, using screw drivers, hammers and wrenches rebuild the pedals? But, they do not have any instructions anywhere. Just an incomplete diagram (only one view and omitting a few key parts) of the pedals with no reference to any instructions. No safety warnings or limitations of use or service.

Speedplay also says that I have not tested the bearings to meet Speedplay standards and specs. I have looked everywhere online and cannot find any minimum requirements anywhere. I guess 15 years and hundreds of rebuilds with NO problems is not enough. I have never seen one of my rebuilds fail. I have seen plenty of OEM screws broken or stripped out. OEM needle bearings that have fallen apart. This is, of course, due to high mileage and/or improper lubrication in which case all bearings would eventually fail. Oh wait! I forgot that Speedplay OEM bearings are made from Unobtainium (from the planet Pandora) and a Cardboardium alloy from a crashed UFO. My bearings are just industrial grade bearings made by SKS, VBX and INA. Maybe Speedplay should sue them for making bearings even though the bearings have been around since well before Speedplay.

As stated in a previous post: All of my cartridge bearings are rated at 85000 rpm. The needle bearings are rated at 23300 rpm. Total dynamic load capacity of well over 400 lb per pedal. Much higher than the 185 lb weight limit on Speedplay Ti pedals. Can you pedal at 23300 rpm? I can only pedal at maximum 130 rpm sustained during a race. I guess that this is not enough?

They state that my screws do not meet their standards and that I have not noted that deficiency. As posted in another post from someone who bought aluminum screws from me: Stainless steel and furnace black steel screws are 880 MPa. 7075-T6 hardened aluminum screws are 530 MPa. Strictly use-at-your-own-risk. It is clearly stated in the auction.


What does Speedplay mean when they say that bearings are a component part? They say it like they own the patent on bearings. Or that the bearings they use are in some way, inherently different from all other bearings.

I was at my LBS the other day talking to one of the techs, I know them all by name, and they told me that they have never been able to service Speedplay pedals. This is a large bicycle store chain and not a mom-and-pop. As far as he knew they could sell them, but could not service them. They directed customers to contact Speedplay directly with any Speedplay pedal issues or rebuilds. I told him about my troubles and he said he has heard similar stories for years. Speedplay may have gotten to them as well.

On the one hand Speedplay says that the pedals are easily rebuildable, but give no instructions and does not allow bike shops to service pedals. On the other hand they do not offer any alternative. Either you pay their huge mark-up and get a rebuild through them directly or you throw them away and buy new ones. This seems like the only acceptable options given by Speedplay.

Crank Brothers offers full rebuild kits AND instructions for $12-$20 depending on the model. They are extremely helpful when it comes to finding out bearing size and any other information on their pedals. There is no need for someone like me to offer bearings or instructions in their case. They sell them for less than I can buy them from somewhere else. Crank Brothers is an excellent role model and I highly respect them. I use them exclusively for my mountain bikes. I sell a grease adapter for Crank Brothers pedals and I have never once had Crank Brothers cancel an auction.

So the question is: Have I done anything wrong? If so just about everyone who has ever sold anything online is guilty as well. Any comments positive AND negative are extremely appreciated.
"Listen, my son. Trust no one! You can count on no one but yourself. Improve your skills, son. Harden your body. Become a number one man. Do not ever let anyone beat you!" -- Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken
User avatar BroDeal
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23 Jan 2011 14:22

ergmonkey wrote:If my flagship product were a pedal with no platform and a silly float philosophy, I wouldn't want my customers to be trying out other pedals, either.


Ya need to do some research. Speedplay Zeros have been outselling their X series(the one with unlimited float) for more than a decade. Plus with the size of the cleat, the 'platform' is very similar to Look/shimano/Time.

I think as this thread gets cooking, as it has on other forums, people should separate the pedal qualities from the actions of the company. BUT if ya think SP is being dastardly in pressuring this guy to not sell 'Speedplay rebuild kits', then use another pedal. I for one like 'em, will continue to use 'em. Don't think the rebuild kit is expensive(name another pedal that yu can even rebuild?).

BTW-A rebuild kit is $65 for both pedals. Not sure where he got the $125 number.
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23 Jan 2011 17:29

I love the pedals. I just switched to speedplay. They are expensive beyond cost and fair markup. Almost a boutique item as are many bike parts these days.
I suddenly don't like the company.
I hope I can find the parts list come time to change bearings.
Does Speedplay know that car companies abandoned this approach to OEM parts after a few fights in the courts? The really interesting part about parts is the car companies do make a lot of their own parts and could not prevent aftermarket suppliers from making replacement parts or modification parts.
Who does Speedplay buy their bearings, seals, screws, and clips from? Sure they make some of their parts but I doubt the hold any patents on other than the bodies and cleats.
Most of us know we can use any air filter, or oil filter. We can use bearings from another company than the ones chosen by the oem manufacturer and the car companies change spec mid production base on price. Same spec is equivalent. Warantee coverage is maintained I suppose until the manufacturer could prove inferior replacement part.
User avatar Master50
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23 Jan 2011 19:56

Bustedknuckle wrote:Ya need to do some research. Speedplay Zeros have been outselling their X series(the one with unlimited float) for more than a decade.


Maybe I could have been clearer in my (clearly facetious, I had assumed) post. But, I am well aware that many riders--especially top riders--prefer the Zeros. I would argue, though, that this point is ironic given the original idea behind Speedplay and it only supports my suggestion that the Speedplay design philosophy can seem a little goofy.

Basically, the "best" Speedplay pedal appears to be the one that doesn't really act like a Speedplay pedal. Pros only seem to want to ride Speedplay if they can eliminate the "knee saving" float that was once the pride and joy of the company.

Anyway, sorry to get anyone worked up about it. As stated, this thread is appropriately about the ethics of Speedplay's (very standard) cease and desist letter regarding allegedly infringing uses of its IP.

If you like your Speedplay pedals, awesome; have fun riding your bike.
ergmonkey
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23 Jan 2011 19:58

Bustedknuckle wrote:(name another pedal that yu can even rebuild?).


Uh...pretty much every pedal. You would be hard pressed to find any pedal that uses bearings that cannot be bought from stardard sources.

Name another company of d-bags that threatens their customers.
"Listen, my son. Trust no one! You can count on no one but yourself. Improve your skills, son. Harden your body. Become a number one man. Do not ever let anyone beat you!" -- Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken
User avatar BroDeal
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23 Jan 2011 20:08

BroDeal wrote:Name another company of d-bags that threatens their customers.


Unfortunately, many companies that own a significant amount of IP.

It's especially bad with trademarks because the law actually requires the trademark holder to "protect" and "enforce" its trademark(s) against infringing uses, otherwise the trademark may lapse--this (perhaps necessary evil) feature of the law practically invites this sort of aggressive use of cease and desist letters.

In many cases, the company won't even be so helpful as to tell you how you're "infringing" their patents/copyrights/trademarks/etc. Instead, they just send you a really official looking and intimidating letter from an excellent law firm which informs you that you must stop breaking the law immediately. Microsoft is a great example; but, I feel a little guilty singling them out here given that they endure so much hate while consumers love Apple for taking advantage of them with so many other anti-competitive activities and policies.
ergmonkey
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23 Jan 2011 20:27

ergmonkey wrote:Unfortunately, many companies that own a significant amount of IP.

It's especially bad with trademarks because the law actually requires the trademark holder to "protect" and "enforce" its trademark(s) against infringing uses, otherwise the trademark may lapse--this (perhaps necessary evil) feature of the law practically invites this sort of aggressive use of cease and desist letters.

In many cases, the company won't even be so helpful as to tell you how you're "infringing" their patents/copyrights/trademarks/etc. Instead, they just send you a really official looking and intimidating letter from an excellent law firm which informs you that you must stop breaking the law immediately. Microsoft is a great example; but, I feel a little guilty singling them out here given that they endure so much hate while consumers love Apple for taking advantage of them with so many other anti-competitive activities and policies.


This has nothing to do with IP other than it is a bogus reason being used by Speedplay to bully people. The guy is selling standard bearings that can be bought by anyone. You right now could go to an Internet retailer of bearings and buy the bearings needed to service a pair of Speedplays. All this guy is doing is buying the bearings for you, putting them in a bag, and shipping them to people.

In other cases Speedplay is complaining about people even using the word "Speedplay" on eBay and in roadbikereview ads to sell actual Speedplay products. It's like Ford preventing people from using "Ford" in classified ads to sell their used cars; instead they have to resort to "a car made in detroit starting with an 'F'".
"Listen, my son. Trust no one! You can count on no one but yourself. Improve your skills, son. Harden your body. Become a number one man. Do not ever let anyone beat you!" -- Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken
User avatar BroDeal
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23 Jan 2011 20:54

BroDeal wrote:This has nothing to do with IP other than it is a bogus reason being used by Speedplay to bully people...
...In other cases Speedplay is complaining about people even using the word "Speedplay" on eBay and in roadbikereview ads to sell actual Speedplay products.


I know. I wasn't trying to justify the behavior, and I do believe it constitutes "bullying." I was just responding to the point about whether other companies abuse their consumers in this way.

The attack on the use of the word "Speedplay" in after-market re-sales is exactly the sort of nonsense that arises frequently when companies try to protect/abuse their trademarks.

It's unfortunate and it's playing dirty. As the subject of this dispute noted, he doesn't have the means to seek adequate legal representation here (and his response implies that--like most normal retailers or repair workers--he's not fully aware of his legal rights). Speedplay knows this; other major IP owners know this; this is why these cease and desist letters are effective well beyond their legal enforceability.
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