It's only been a matter of months since SRAM and Fox ended their six-year legal battle
over chainring and axle patents, but the two bike industry giants are at it again.
Fox Factory, Inc. last week filed a complaint - available here
- with Central District of California courts seeking actual and punitive damages from SRAM, LLC for supposed patent infringement related to the bleed valves on RockShox's 2023 forks. The filing references United States patent #US10746250B2
for a "Method and Apparatus for an Adjustable Damper" that is described as such:
Bleed valves on mountain bike forks aren't entirely new - companies like MRP, X-Fusion, Manitou, and others have used different iterations of the concept, but Fox was granted the patent in 2020 and RockShox introduced its version of the valves for its recent launch of the 2023 ZEB, Lyrik, and Pike models.
The battle of the bleed valves: Fox vs RockShox.
Fox is not only requesting damages but demanding that RockShox stop selling the forks immediately and hand over all unsold inventory to be destroyed.
At the beginning of this year, when the two companies ended their series of claims and counterclaims against one another over chainrings and axles, both ended up licensing technology to each other - Fox granted SRAM a non-exclusive royalty-free license for its axles, and SRAM granted Fox a non-exclusive license for its chainrings, but one that demanded that Fox pay royalties to SRAM.
Many speculated that the battle ended because legal fees simply became too high, with estimates that both companies spent millions on the claims. It'll be interesting to see how long this round continues, and whether it results in Fox licensing the bleed valve design to SRAM.
We have reached out to both companies for comment and will update this article with any statements we receive.