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Old 12-29-2015, 05:11 PM   #1
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Alpinestars and Dainese in airbag patent infringement dispute

What initially appeared to be a peaceful coexistence between Alpinestars' Tech Air (left) and Dainese's D-Air (right) airbag protection systems has now been shattered with the news that the two Italian apparel giants are locking horns in a patent infringement battle in European courts.

When you think of protective riding apparel, two names from Italy immediately come to mind: Alpinestars and Dainese. The two Italian apparel giants have made a name for themselves producing all manner of riding gear for serious motorcycle enthusiasts, as well as motorcycle-related casual wear. Both manufacturers have been at the cutting edge of protection technology, with each offering self-contained internal airbag protection suits: Dainese with its D-Air system and Alpinestars with its Tech Air system.

There seemed to be a peaceful coexistence between the two makers as each promoted its competing airbag technology, despite some obvious similarities (both have self-contained control units that use accelerometers and sophisticated algorithms to determine whether an actual crash is taking place, using an airbag that inflates in microseconds that protects the rider's body from impacts). But recently there were reports that Dainese had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Alpinestars in Germany and Italy regarding several key components of the Tech Air system. Alpinestars issued a press release in an attempt to clarify the matter, and several days later, Dainese responded with its own press release. Suffice it to say that the matter won't be resolved anytime soon.

The following are the press releases from both companies:

From Alpinestars, released on Dec. 23:
Alpinestars Tech-Air Street Airbag system – Statement regarding press coverage of Patent Challenge

With reference to recent articles published about Alpinestars and Dainese being in dispute over airbag technology, Alpinestars is issuing the following statement to clarify the current situation:

Alpinestars has been subjected to an allegation of patent infringement by Dainese on a specific part of its airbag construction used in the Tech-Air Street system.

The Alpinestars’ Tech-Air Street system was launched in November 2014 as the world’s first self-contained street airbag system that independently functions without the need for sensors to be installed on the bike and the subsequent need to link a specific motorcycle to the airbag system used by the rider.

The allegations made by Dainese S.p.A in proceedings launched in Italy against Alpinestars, refer to the assembly of the bag itself, the physical material piece that contains the gas in an inflation and not with any reference to any other parts or Alpinestars’ Tech-Air street system’s use of an algorithm for registering when the airbag deployment should occur.

Dainese instead make claims that the physical construction of the bag in the Tech-Air system infringes upon Dainese's patents.

In Germany, Dainese did make a direct request to certain retailers, that they cease and desist from offering for sale the Alpinestars Tech-Air Street system, however, no legal action has been taken against Alpinestars and neither has Alpinestars withdrawn any of its products from the German market.

All claims made by Dainese against Alpinestars and/or its retailers are disputed and Alpinestars is taking the appropriate legal measures to ensure that any such unfounded allegations will not prevent distribution and sales of the Tech-Air Street system.

Given Alpinestars' own research & development has been undertaken through Alpinestars' in-house Advanced Technology Department since 2001, Alpinestars is contesting the allegations made. The Tech-Air Street system is based on Alpinestars' technology creation and the physical bag used in the Tech-Air Street system is from known airbag technology, used within the Automotive industry and does not infringe upon third parties' intellectual property rights.

Alpinestars continues to distribute Tech-Air technology for the benefit of all motorcyclists throughout Europe and the rest of the world and trusts that the allegations made will be proven to have no basis through appropriate legal jurisdiction.

And the Dainese reply to Alpinestars, released today:

VICENZA, Ialy (Dec. 29, 2015) – With respect to Alpinestars’ “Statement regarding press coverage of Patent Challenge,” and for the sake of clarity, Dainese deems it necessary to reply to the following claim:

“In Germany, Dainese did make a direct request to certain retailers, that they cease and desist from offering for sale the Alpinestars Tech-Air Street system, however, no legal action has been taken against Alpinestars.”

In fact:
In October 2015, the Court of Munich released two autonomous preliminary injunctions against a German Alpinestars dealer, confirming that the Alpinestars Tech-Air system infringes two Dainese patents in Europe.Dainese has also recently filed, before a German Court, an additional lawsuit against Alpinestars, seeking compensatory damages for infringement of Dainese’s patents and the halting of commercialization of the Tech-Air system in Germany.

In addition, Dainese would like to clarify that:
Dainese has never received a cease-and-desist letter from Alpinestars.Dainese has filed a lawsuit against Alpinestars before an Italian court, seeking compensatory damages for infringement of Dainese’s patents, as well as an urgent preliminary injunction for halting the commercialization of the Tech-Air system in Italy.Dainese’s patents have been released by the European Patent Office following a long verification procedure, and are therefore registered and fully valid.

At this time, Dainese will not comment further on the merit of those lawsuits, instead preferring to discuss them in the appropriate venues.

Advocating and delivering safety to people exposed to traumatic injuries in dynamic sports has been the mission of Dainese since Lino Dainese founded the company in 1972. From the very first day, Dainese has been the innovator for protection in active sports, with major industry firsts including the back protector for motorcycle riding, skiing, mountain biking and equestrian use, as well as the D-air® airbag system, which Mr. Dainese conceived in 1995.

Dainese owns 26 patents on the D-air technology and has made extensive investments in the research, invention, development, manufacture and marketing of the first and most innovative airbag-protection platform for motorcyclists: the D-air systems for racetrack and road use. In 2015, D-air for racetrack use became an open platform, as D-air Armor was integrated into the products of other motorcycle-garment manufacturers, enabling more riders to take advantage of the safety provided by the Dainese D-air system. The D-air platform has also been used to develop D-air Ski, an innovative airbag system for use in skiing, as well as airbag systems for use in the automotive field.

About the Dainese Group
Founded in 1972 by Lino Dainese, Dainese produces protective wear for motorcycling, mountain biking, winter sports and equestrian use. In 2007 the company acquired premium race- and sport-helmet manufacturer AGV, and in 2015 it acquired premium winter sports and cycling protective-gear brand POC. Dainese, AGV and POC protective products showcase some of the most innovative technologies in action sports and are used by the world’s top athletes. Headquartered in Vicenza, Italy, Dainese is distributed in North America exclusively by Dainese USA, which, along with Parts Unlimited, also distributes AGV helmets.

1995: Lino Dainese has the idea to protect motorcycle riders with air, marking the birth of the D-air® concept.
2000: The first D-air prototype for road use is presented in Munich.*
2006: The D-air system for racetrack use—the first self-contained motorcycle airbag system that independently functions without any physical connection to the motorcycle—deploys during an organized test in Adria, Italy.
2007: The first D-air deployment during an official Grand Prix of the MotoGP® World Championship occurs in a fall by Dainese D-air rider Simone Grotzky at the Valencia Grand Prix.*
2008: The first crash tests of a prototype D-air system for road use are carried out.
March 2009: Ducati and Dainese begin a partnership for the full integration of D-air into a production motorcycle.
2009: During the German Grand Prix, for the first time, at least one rider in every category wears a suit fitted with D-air for racetrack use.*
2010: Having passed more than 800 individual tests, D-air for racetrack use is awarded certification by Tüv Süd, one of the most respected European Certification centers.*
January 2011: Dainese and the International Ski Federation (FIS®) sign a cooperation agreement to develop D-air Ski, a protective system based on the D-air platform, to prevent injuries to skiers competing in the Alpine Skiing World Cup speed disciplines (Downhill and Super-G).
March 2011: D-air for racetrack use becomes available to the public and is distributed to the market.*
November 2011: D-air for road use is presented at the EICMA show in Milan.
2012: ADAC, the respected German Automobile Club, officially recognizes the exceptional performance of D-air for road use.
2012: Having passed more than 800 individual tests, D-air for road use is awarded certification by Tüv Süd, which followed automotive safety standards while carrying out hundreds of tests on D-air’s harmlessness, protective features, electronics safety and ergonomics. D-air for road use and racetrack use are the only motorcycle airbag systems to be certified by Tüv Süd.*
April 2012: D-air for road use becomes available to the public and is distributed to the market.*
May 2012: Dainese supplies and protects the Italian Motorway Patrol Service with D-air for road use.
September 2012: At the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hannover, Germany, Dainese and Iveco present new solutions for protecting the occupants of light and heavy commercial trucks, marking the first use of D-air in the automotive field.
2013: BMW and Dainese begin a partnership to integrate D-air for racetrack use in the leather suit dedicated to the BMW 1000 RR, the DoubleR Race AIR BMW suit.
2014: D-air for road use passes tests carried out by the French Sécurité Réparation Automobiles (SRA).
2014: Ducati and Dainese announce the launch of the first D-air for road use to be fully integrated with a motorcycle, the Ducati Multistrada D-air.*
May 2015: D-air for racetrack use becomes an open platform, as D-air Armor is integrated into the products of other motorcycle-garment manufacturers, enabling more riders to take advantage of the safety provided by the Dainese D-air system.*
June 2015: Dainese and Ducati receive the prestigious Professor Ferdinand Porsche award, for pioneering research and development work in the field of automotive engineering with the Ducati Multistrada D-air.
September 2015: Dainese celebrates 1,000 deployments of the D-air systems and presents the D-air Misano 1000, a leather jacket with a stand-alone electronically deployed airbag system for road use.
October 2015: After five years of intense collaboration with the FIS, including telemetry data collection begun in January 2011, D-air Ski is officially used in Alpine Skiing World Cup speed-discipline races during 2015/2016 season, protecting a number of skiers on the American, Canadian, Austrian and Italian Teams.*
December 2015: D-air Ski is deployed for the first time during an official race of the Alpine Skiing World Cup, in Italy, likely preventing further thoracic injuries to Olympic downhill gold medalist Matthias Mayer.*

*Indicates a first in the area of airbag technology.

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