Smith & Koroyd Sue Burton For Use of WaveCel in Helmets

Jul 19, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  
Smith Rover Helmet Review by Vernon Felton

Smith and Koroyd have jointly filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Burton for the use of Wavecel in its products.

Wavecel is a rotational and impact protection insert developed by Bontrager and was first released in March 2019. Burton, a company that specializes in snowboard equipment, announced it would also be using the technology in its new Anon helmet line at the start of this year. Koroyd is also a protective insert, but instead of rubber-like waves it uses extruded tubes to absorb impacts.

The suit has been filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah and accuses Burton of infringing US Patent No.10,736, 373 through its importing and selling of Anon helmets in the United States. A separate lawsuit is also being filed by Koroyd in Germany against Burton also based on IP infringement. The patent that Burton is claimed to have infringed is for a "Helmet with shock absorbing inserts", filed on August 13, 2013. It's not clear exactly where the patent has been infringed at this moment in time.

According to a press release, Burton was asked to respect Smith and Koroyd's patent rights before it launched its Anon products however, after Burton decided to continue with the launch, Smith and Kororyd began legal action against it.

bigquotesOur business is structured in such a way to inspire transformation and innovation throughout our entire group. Through our long-term R&D investments, we have consistently delivered unique safety solutions which offer a significant performance advantage compared to legacy and emerging products and have become the trusted technology partner to the leading brands in a diverse range of industries. Copycat products offer little advancement for the end consumer and impede innovations for all. This action is part of our global strategy to enforce our registered rights. The protection of intellectual property encourages innovation, copying product reduces innovation and, if rewarded, discourages research and development. We will continue to maximize our contribution to the sports and safety segments and protection of people pursuing their passions and facilitating them to experience life to the fullest.John Lloyd, founder and managing director, Koroyd

This is the second Wavecel related legal action we've reported on this year after a New York man began legal action against Bontrager's safety claims in January. Bontrager declined to comment and Burton have been approached for comment.


89 Comments

  • 166 2
 I wish Smith would worry less about lawsuits, and more about figuring out the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of letting me buy replacement foam pads.

Literally love everything else about their helmets, but the foam always delaminates after a year or so of regular use.

Once I asked how to get a replacement and they just shipped one to me free. Last week I asked again (for a new helmet after I crashed in that one) and they said I’d have to file a warranty claim.

Why is it so impossible to buy a part that I’m sure costs them $0.50? Honesty I’d love to have a few to swap out and put them through the wash when they start to stink.

Why do you want my head to stink Smith?
  • 55 3
 Simple. replacement small parts means you don't buy a whole new helmet which means less profit. And a corporation can never have less profit
  • 18 1
 I had the same issue in my Forefront 1. I chatted them up at SOC and they sent me like 7 sets of pads. lol
  • 7 0
 Same issue here. Would love to be able to get some new Smith pads.
  • 6 13
flag blcpdx (Jul 19, 2021 at 13:20) (Below Threshold)
 I usually just wear a skullcap like this
www.headsweats.com/collections/cycling-headwear/products/cycling-skullcap-black
you can buy a few, and wash them with your kit.
Once you think about how dirty your pads are, it's hard to not think about it.
Once you remove the pads out, the helmet will fit even better with just the cap.
  • 5 2
 I just want them to make glasses that aren't as much as a set of elaborate goggles with two lenses. I like Smith stuff too, but glasses get trashed biking, no way I'm dropping 100s of bucks.
  • 12 0
 This! All of this! Why the hell can't I buy spare liner pads for my Forefront 2? Shout out to Leatt for including a spare set of pads with each helmet.
  • 10 1
 Last week I sent Smith a message about my pads falling apart and not being able to buy new ones anywhere. They asked me to fill out the warranty form on their website, and are now sending me a whole new helmet!
It seems that it's easier for them to give me a brand new helmet than supply new pads! I can't really complain, but it's a bit of a head scratcher for sure!
@freestyIAM - to be fair, it doesn't seem that making us buy new helmets instead of pads is their motive here. It's just that making more replacement pads seems REALLY hard for them for some reason!
  • 2 0
 They are pretty good with warranties on their sunglasses. IDK about helmets.
  • 7 0
 Ugh, I have this same issue with the foam pads in my TLD A2. And the glue on the sticky part at the back is clearly dissolved by sweat...
  • 5 0
 @freestyIAM: Because corporations are people, too!
  • 5 1
 and they should stop changing their snow goggle shape every 2 years so it's impossible to find replacement lenses for your perfectly fine goggles... sorry but there is no innovation involved, only planned obsolescence. I'd like to keep my IO7s, for which I paid a crapload of money btw...
  • 1 0
 @HB208: When my v1 Forefront developed cracks in the outer plastic cover near the straps, they sent me a new one pretty quickly. It was a different color but overall I was pretty happy with the experience.
  • 1 4
 @freestyIAM: Spoken like a true boulderan
  • 3 0
 @marseer: Same here. Email TLD and they will send you a replacement. Love the helmet & customer support but the pads are a joke. Can't wash them otherwise they fail. Can't wear em otherwise they fail.
  • 1 0
 @marseer: my TLD came with spares
  • 4 0
 @pistol2ne: says the dude from SF *eyeroll*
  • 1 0
 literally is the new like
  • 2 0
 @matadorCE: I contacted Smith customer service via email. They sent me 3 liners. Got them in 2 days.
  • 3 0
 @rafguevara: What secret handshake did you use to get them to send you liners, instead of refer you to the warranty program?
  • 1 0
 Totally agree!!!!
  • 1 0
 @eshew: Alright, I'll try that. I think with my previous helmet (A1) I bought them through my local shop.
  • 5 13
flag pistol2ne (Jul 19, 2021 at 18:20) (Below Threshold)
 @freestyIAM: Don't worry, you'll have plenty of needles on the streets in no time with your prog politics. It's great! I love stepping in poop in the richest city in the US.
  • 3 0
 I've had this issue with every helmet I've owned. Some last longer than others of course but the pads always fall apart eventually if you're sweating into them for a few hours a week. In future when i buy a helmet I'm going to buy a few sets of pads at the same time because they're always difficult to find when the manufacturer has moved on to a new model.
  • 1 0
 Infinity upvotes
  • 2 0
 Smith small parts are only available from the shop where you bought the helmet, and only if you can talk them into that. And if the sales representative does want to bother with small parts.

I had this with a visor that broke. Quite complicated to get a replacement, but at least it was free.

With the pads I asked my wife to stitch them (after washing it Wink ).
  • 1 0
 You can trade currency for tld helmet liners. Go on the interweb and check it out! I have! @marseer:
  • 2 1
 Well, after a few years of using their stuff, i figured out....they just kinda suck.
  • 2 0
 @freestyIAM: But there would be no profit for smith if they want to give him a new helmet instead of small foam pads.
  • 4 0
 When you become a Outside member you get free pads.
  • 1 0
 @rafguevara: Tried that a while back. They said it had to be a warranty issue to get new ones, and they don't sell them separately.
  • 1 0
 @atourgates: No handshake. I do order a new helmet pretty much every year.
  • 1 0
 @matadorCE: I asked to buy them, and they asked for a pic of the receipt via email and then they sent the liners.
  • 1 0
 @HB208: My Forefront V1's color faded after four or five months of use and they sent me a whole new one. So far their helmet warranty has been good.
  • 6 0
 Join the push for Right to Repair. It's insane how many companies do not make parts available.

We had a couple tent poles snap recently. Tent is perfectly fine, only used a couple times a year. The hassle of trying to get replacement poles is pathetic. Call the store (it's a brand only available at one chain), they direct me to the brand. The brand itself doesn't handle replacement part requests, I have to contact the manufacturer directly (imagine Apple asking you to call Foxxcon for a replacement battery). The manu acts like this is a huge PITA, finally send s quote where 2 poles, plus shipping is going to be about 2/3rd the price of entirely new tent. To "solve" the problem the store offers 50% off a new tent. I don't want a new tent, my tent is fine, I just need two replacement poles (and no, generic replacements don't seem to exist for this size). Anyway, 7 wks later and way too many emails and phone calls I'm still fighting, in futility, for some freakin' poles... I'm not buying a whole new tent, even if they gave it to me.
  • 3 0
 @freestyIAM: This is actually not true. I run a manufacturing company and replacement small parts is an incredible source of revenue. Sell the highest profit margin components over and over, or risk losing business to a competitor. Companies that don't do this typically have a different reason and that reason is typically that they make their products in off-shore factories run by 3rd parties and they have absolutely nothing to do with the actual manufacturing of their product.

Those companies, I try to avoid.
  • 39 0
 I’m confused
  • 108 0
 me too man. I think we have to ask Sue Burton?
  • 9 36
flag ididntknowhatomakemyusername (Jul 19, 2021 at 12:41) (Below Threshold)
 Paywall??
  • 13 1
 Me too, why go after Burton and not Bontrager? Did they go after Bontrager?
  • 10 0
 Sure sign you didn;t use a wavecell or mips helmet and got a concussion
  • 5 0
 @Bob-Agg: Yea kind of weird. Wavecel isn't something Burton came up with. To Burton its simply a 3rd party they have partnered with to use the material in their line of snow helmets. But Trek has been using it in helmets for a while now (after they invented it) and they have never been sued.
  • 4 0
 It's like a brainteaser. I feel like all the facts are probably there, just not necessarily in the correct order.
  • 2 0
 @sino428: Bontrager/Trek did not invent WaveCel, and they do not own WaveCel. WaveCel is a separate company/entity.
  • 1 0
 . .
  • 2 0
 @cycleskiclimb: I was just going by what the article said above. "Wavecel is a rotational and impact protection insert developed by Bontrager and was first released in March 2019".

Really doesn't matter who owns it, the point of my comment would remain the same in that Burton didn't come up with it, they are leasing the technology from another company.
  • 21 0
 So, I have owned two Smith Forefront 2 helmets with Koroyd. On my local trail bees always buzz around my head trying to check out Koroyd, and some of them tried to crawl in. The shape of Koroyd confuses the hell out of bees.
  • 4 0
 That’s so funny and effed up!
  • 27 6
 Fuck litigation lawyers you argumentative fucks
  • 2 7
flag extratalldirtrider (Jul 20, 2021 at 8:21) (Below Threshold)
 Dude, it’s business.
  • 14 2
 its telling that they decided to sue Burton and not Bontrager, since obstensibly, Bontrager was the one that infinged on the patent first. I guess it is easier to battle the guy with the lesser sword, to gain precident.
  • 5 0
 Wouldn’t be surprised if Burton and Trek/Bontrager aren’t having a chat right now to try and ensure the precident goes the other way
  • 2 1
 Maybe. Smith makes $100mil/yr, which is plenty to afford lawyers to sue Bontrager if they have a case. Bontrager must have found a way around it, or pay some sort of royalty fees that we don't know about.
  • 10 1
 Pretty sure Burton is a larger company than Smith Optics. It's about a ~$400,000,000 ARR company. I'm more surprised Burton rolled the RED line (their old protection brand) under the ANON brand umbrella.
  • 6 0
 @chacou: Smith is owned by a conglomerate, FWIW. That conglomerate is much bigger than Burton.
  • 4 0
 @HB208: ah, just checked it out, yup, Safilo Group S.p.A. looks to have about a $900mil ARR
  • 4 0
 @chacou: Yeah, not as big as Oakley by any means. I like Smith a lot more than Oakley though.
  • 4 0
 Lawsuits in the protection realm are always greasy feeling. People just be out here trying to make our heads safe. Let em do it.

@chacou: Burton did that they same time they killed The Program brands, minimized Analog, and pushed Gravis to Asia only. Too many brands, too much marketing, and Anon had already begun positioning itself as a "winter sports" brand where as RED was pretty well known as more of a "snowboard" brand. It made sense, and if you're gonna make goggles and helmets, it only makes sense they have the same brand name. It makes people think they belong together. Increase sales of both by association. People always over estimate Burton's size, not really considering that they are still private. Out of the 9 or so board brands I sold at the old shop, Burton was ultimately larger than maybe 2.
  • 1 0
 @SidewaysSingleSpeed: Burton had like $400M in revenue a few years back. That isn't small by any means for a producer of a specialty product, but most probably think they are in the billions. www.forbes.com/sites/elisabethbrier/2019/11/22/the-final-interview-with-snowboard-king-jake-burton-carpenter/?sh=16be982e74a6
  • 1 0
 @HB208: I don't mean to say that they are not a large brand. But when you consider that Ride and K2 are part of K2 sports which is also BCA, Marker, Volkl, and I think Dalbello, the Nidecker brothers own Jones, Yes, NOW, Rome, Bataleon, Flow, and Switchback, Mervin (Gnu and Lib) are owned by a holding group that owns Billabong and Dakine last I knew, Salomon owns something like 40% of the ski boot industry alone, and they also own Atomic and Arcteryx, DC sells A LOT of shoes...
  • 1 0
 I suspect Smith doesn't have a case against Bontrager and even if they lose, a lawsuit might deter anyone else from investing in wavecel
  • 6 0
 the patent is far too broadly defined to be enforceable in this case, possibly to the point of the patent being invalid, and the technology in question is obviously different enough that the specific patent on koroyd is not violated. This is like trying to enforce a patent for "a low friction system using round ball bearings inside of a retaining device" you're just stating something that has already existed previously and is already on the market. just look up 'multiple impact helmet', there's a butt ton of helmets that would fall under "helmet with shock absorbing inserts" already out there
  • 5 0
 Interesting. I just listened to the Blister podcast with the guy from Wavecel. He didn't mention this particular lawsuit but disagrees that Wavecel is anything like Koroyd except in general appearance. I'm no lawyer, but it seems like "helmet with shock abosorbing inserts" is pretty vague and could be used against almost anything.
  • 7 1
 I'd almost pay for this article to answer the obvious question of why Burton and not Bontrager also. Big ol elephant in the room and no mention of it.

Unless I skimmed over it..?
Happens alot. :-)
  • 1 0
 Yup. A lot.
  • 5 0
 From the legal team that brought you Knolly vs Intense comes Smith vs Burton.

m.pinkbike.com/news/knolly-bikes-suing-intense-for-alleged-patent-infringement.html
  • 7 1
 its crazy the patents we place on safety
  • 9 2
 Im not a covid fear freak, kind of off topic, but the USA, big pharma, and Fauci would not let India produce our vaccines 6 months ago because of patents and big money. Pretty effd up.
  • 2 0
 Liquid fabric glue all around a new A2 liner on the Velcro cling side seems to work. Rinse in lukewarm water every 2-3 rides, squeeze gently let dry. Going to try wood burning tool next to seal the edges. TLD you gotta do better for a $190 helmet. Going to try another brand next time.
  • 1 0
 Was once in a start up. Your terrified of someone stealing your idea, specially with something new. But all it really gives is product validation… cant have 100% of the market anyways.
  • 3 0
 I snowboard with smith goggles and burton boots. Sue me
  • 7 9
 "Copycat products offer little advancement for the end consumer and impede innovations for all." Really. Copycat makes innovation accessible to more people, they cut in your profit eventually (thru they are probably addressing another market) and you can keep innovating... A better way than a lawsuit would to create cheaper products so copycat has no market left.
  • 18 2
 This is a free market. Your suggestion would be shot down immediately in every board of directors meeting in every corporations office when posed as an alternative to filing a lawsuit against patent infringement. Patents are in place for one thing and one thing alone and that is to protect profitability of intellectual property. Not protecting that will absolutely stifle ingenuity as there will be no safeguard for profits that come from all the investment put in prior to arriving to market.
  • 12 0
 I work in research and development for a company that manufactures products in America. You cannot innovate and make cheaper products at the same time. That is why knockoffs are so damaging. They take all of your hard work, simply copy it, and then undercut you. If we were not able to protect our intellectual property we would be out of business. Constant innovation is the only way to compete with cheap products made in low wage countries.
  • 4 7
 @numbnuts1977: the free market has always been a myth and always will be.

Every economy is a planned economy.

The question is, are the planners talented, and what are their goals?
  • 3 0
 @numbnuts1977: I would say they exist for two reasons, to protect IP by gifting a monopoly for a reasonable, limited time, in exchange fir telling everyone exactly how you did it, so when the patent expires everyone benefits from your invention.
  • 1 0
 Good for them! Copycats reduce the incentive to pay for research and development needed to innovate.
  • 4 2
 Smecializedith?
  • 5 5
 Capitalism was a mistake.
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