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Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit?
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TOPIC: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit?

Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 2 years, 4 months ago #32592

  • corran
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Here is an interesting thing that has come up....

C4 waterman has joined forces with the owner of a Patent to try to sue everyone in the SUP industry making inflatable boards. The irony of all this is that Switlik has an identical patent, dating almost 10 years before the C$/Yonover patent. In fact the Yonover patent is SO CLOSE to the Switlik patent that it's impossible to see how it could not have been copied directly from it. Add to this that Sevylor was making boards exactly like this 20 years before the patent, and what we have is a company whose sales are floundering, teaming up with a self acknowledged Patent Predator/opportunist, attacking one by one the companies making inflatable SUPs.

I don't have a dog in this fight - my inflatables do NOT infringe on the patent (assuming for a second that the patent is valid), so I'm speaking up because this is just wrong. C4's actions are shameful, and counter productive to the continued growth and popularity of the sport (prices will go up, dealer margins go down, in order to pay the royalties) all so that they can subsidize their floundering sales with other peoples hard earned money.

They are a pariah to this industry and sport, and should be treated as such.

Corran



There has been some interesting discussion here too: www.standupzone.com/forum/index.php?topic=17125.0

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 2 years, 4 months ago #32595

  • srog
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I am writing to correct a number of serious misperceptions and misunderstandings about C4 Waterman and its role in this debate over inflatable surfboard patent royalties.

Thus, to make our position clear: It's evident that many of you are laboring under the misapprehension that this is a case of Dr. Yonover and C4 Waterman vs. the industry. That could not be further from the truth. C4 is a vital part of the industry and was the principal brushcutter in pioneering it. But we do not construct the United States Patent laws.

As far as inflatable stand-up paddleboards go, we are all in the same boat. Each of us has decided to manufacture and sell inflatable SUPs and, like you, we were approached by a legal firm and told we must pay a royalty on the technology.

We were among the first to adapt inflatable technology to stand-up paddleboarding and indeed it was our widespread promotion of this type of board that led Dr. Yonover to contact us. He informed us that he held a patent that covered inflatable surfboards. Naturally, we performed due diligence on this claim and were advised by our intellectual property attorneys that the patent is legitimate and enforceable. Thus, we made a decision to do what we thought was best for our business and our resources – we agreed to license the technology from Dr. Yonover for a royalty – and it's the same royalty that everyone else in the industry is paying or being asked to pay. Would we prefer not to pay a royalty? Of course. But we believe that an inventor with a patent on a technology that we use is entitled by law to license that technology for compensation. Let me be clear - we get nothing more out of paying our royalty than any other group does. We are simply allowed to use the technology in our products. It is a level playing field for all our companies.

I hope this clears up any and all previous misunderstandings and fallacies. Our position is clear: We have always been staunch supporters of this category and sport, and will continue to be. As patent holders and innovators ourselves, we understand what it is like to have those inventions encroached upon without a by-your-leave. Obviously, C4 did not write the United States Patent law, which is part of the Constitution of the United States and dates back to 1790. We agreed to pay this royalty because we believe it was the right decision for our business and because it is a big part of the American Way. If you feel differently, fine. We just ask that you respect our decision to honor the law of the land and pay the royalty.

Sincerely,
Dave Parmenter, Todd Bradley, Brian Keaulana, Archie Kalepa
Founders, C4 Waterman, Inc

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 2 years, 4 months ago #32596

  • corran
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"Hi Corran - Steve Rogerson here. I'm working with C4 now, and have an inside perspective on this. Here's the scoop - you've got it all wrong implicating C4 in this, making assumptions in a public forum about C4's role and intentions. As you know C4 was a pioneer in inflatable SUP with the iSUPs, and has a really extensive offering of different shapes and sizes. As such, we were an early target of the patent holder, and under advice from our legal counsel, decided to pay the royalties requested. And that's it. You say you have no dog in the fight, then why slander C4 with this kind of talk. You sell inflatables, C4 sells inflatables. And where do you get your information about declining sales? It's just the opposite. If you want to discuss further, my email address is srogbdz@gmaildotcom. Best regards, Steve"


Hi Steve

This is completely false. C4 is in fact in bed with Yanover. To the extent that C4 approached Starboard and offered them the deal "make your inflatable boards in our factory and we'll waive the royalty fee". If this is not collusion, then what is? C4 could not make this offer if it were not in bed with Yanover. In addition, Todd Bradly was walking about the Outdoor Retailer taking photos(quite against the rules of the Outdoor Retailer - this little stunt is probably going to get C4 kicked out of the OR permanently as its strictly against OR rules and regualtions) of everyone's inflatable boards for the Chicago Law firm. While C4 is now attempting to distance themselves from this, it's too late. You've been caught with your hands in the cookie jar, and when the dust settles C4 is going to find themselves the Pariah of the industry. The best, and most logical move C4 can do now, is condemn this patent publicly for what it is - a poor and underhanded effort of a self acclaimed patent predator (Yanover) to claim an invention 20 years after it has been invented (and this invention well documented - the patent in question is almost a carbon copy of the Switlik patent that predates it), and bamboozle an industry into paying royalties. Its akin to patenting the Internet in 2000 - 20 years after it was invented! The problem is that you've now hit a wall - the 800lbs gorilla called the sup industry. C4's actions are a pathetic attempt to subsidize floundering sales by pirating other companies success'.

I do not have a dog in this fight. What I mean by that, is my inflatable rockered board does not have a fin, and my inflatable board with a fin does not have rocker, and thus does not "infringe" on this patent as it is written- I have absolutely NOTHING to gain from fighting C4 on this, OTHER that to expose C4 for what they are, and the role they re playing in this, despite the feeble attempts to claim the contrary. My agenda is to defend the rest of the industry from predators like you... and actions which can only harm the overall growth of this industry by ultimately raising prices and reducing profits. My focus is on whats best for this industry, the dealers who have their lively-hood on the line, the manufactures who are doing everything they can to create something good and fun, and ultimately the end consumers who are participating in this sport and buying the product, and to defend all of them from people like Yanover and C4, and everything about C4's collusion in this goes against that, and the spirit of Aloha that C4 claims to uphold.

It's pathetic. C4 is pathetic. You have no business being a part of this community. It's time for you to leave.

Corran
The following user(s) said Thank You: srog

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 2 years, 4 months ago #32597

  • corran
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srog wrote:


Thus, to make our position clear: It's evident that many of you are laboring under the misapprehension that this is a case of Dr. Yonover and C4 Waterman vs. the industry. That could not be further from the truth. C4 is a vital part of the industry and was the principal brushcutter in pioneering it. But we do not construct the United States Patent laws.

Sincerely,
Dave Parmenter, Todd Bradley, Brian Keaulana, Archie Kalepa
Founders, C4 Waterman, Inc


Dear Dave Parmenter, Todd Bradley, Brian Keaulana and Archie Kalepa

This is what it feels like to have egg in your face.

www.seabreeze.com.au/News/Stand%20Up%20P...uipment_4800091.aspx

Corran

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 2 years, 4 months ago #32599

  • corran
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You're absolutely right, C4 waterman has NOTHING to do with this pathetic patent at all...

www.outdoorindustry.org/news.industry.php?newsId=14264

This is starting to look a lot more serious than just egg in your face. In fact, when the music stops, C4 is going to find themselves without a chair... completely excluded from this awesome sport and industry.

Do you still claim that C4 has nothing to do with this? Lets see, over 1000 views on this site alone. All ex dealers and ex customers of yours reading this. And a similar thing on other forums worldwide... and magazines shortly too...

C4 tried to pull a fast one and in fact whats happened is you've slit your own wrists. Well done! Good call...

Corran

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 2 years, 3 months ago #32653

  • Jeroen
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Btw I think this is the filed Yonover patent from 1998 we're talking about:
www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/6066016
(doesn't look a lot like a SUP board...)

And this would be the Switlik patent from 1988 (expired):
www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/4736474

And then there is this one from Mollis from 2007, which at least reminds me a little bit of a SUP board:
www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/7662006

There are many more, for inflatable kayaks, windsurf boards, etc etc. It makes me pretty sad that such generic concepts can be patented at all, but since they can, legal fights seem to become a part of the daily business - look at Apple and Samsung...
If you're happy, you're successful.

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 1 year, 5 months ago #32963

  • supzero
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Did anybody ever end up in court for this 'Inflatable SUP Patent' violation? Or how many companies actually settled out of court?
SUPzero
supzero.com

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 1 year, 5 months ago #32965

  • corran
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C4 ended up with egg on its face when the patent was thrown out. Not sure how many people signed a license agreement - sucks for them.

As for C4 - boycott them. This industry doesn't need pariahs like this - they are a cancer to this otherwise amazing industry and sport.

Corran

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 1 year, 5 months ago #32967

  • supzero
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2013: That outdoorindustry.org link that Corran posted has disappeared, but it's still in the wayback machine:
web.archive.org/liveweb/https://www.outd...=&action=display
SUPzero
supzero.com

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 1 year, 5 months ago #32978

I am a member of the legal team that represents Hawaii Airboards, LLC in the enforcement and licensing of United States Patent No. 6,066,016 ("the '016 patent").

Of course, members on this blog are free to have and share their opinions regarding this patent. However, certain statements on this blog are simply not accurate - perhaps based on misinformation - and I would like to use this platform to correct these statements:

1) The '016 patent was not "thrown out." I assume that this phrase "thrown out" was meant to suggest that the '016 patent has been declared invalid by either the U.S. Patent Office or a U.S. Federal Court. That is not true. Although a third party request for reexamination of the '016 patent was granted by the U.S. Patent Office, the reexamination proceeding is still ongoing. It is common that during this process the U.S. Patent Office advances arguments as to why certain claims at issue are anticipated by or obvious in view of certain prior art references. This is the current status of the proceedings. However, Hawaii Airboards, LLC is preparing and will submit arguments as to why the prior art does not invalidate certain claims of the '016 patent. To date, the '016 patent remains valid and enforceable. Hawaii Airboards, LLC will continue to vigorously defend the validity of its patent claims.

As you may be aware, there are a number of companies that are currently making and selling inflatable SUPs that tried themselves to secure patent protection for their boards - without success. If any of these competitors would have been able to secure their own patent(s), they certainly would not have allowed others to profit from the use of patented technology without a license.

2) C4 is not a "partner" in Hawaii Airboards, LLC's enforcement and licensing of the '016 patent. Although certain press releases and articles posted on this board unfortunately seem to suggest otherwise. For sure, the choice of the term "partner" was unfortunate because it incorrectly describes the relationship between Hawaii Airboards, LLC and C4. The correct term should have been "licensee." C4 has merely been one of the early licensees of the '016 patent. As such, it pays the same royalty as all the other competitors that have accepted a license.

3) Hawaii Airboards, LLC is accused of being a "Patent Troll." This has become a popular term in recent years, although there is a wide spectrum of opinions as to who is or is not a patent troll. In any event, it should be recognized that Dr. Robert Yonover, the inventor of the '016 patent is an industrious innovator and inventor and holds multiple patents in the field of survival technology that have been utilized by military, consumer and commercial customers worldwide.

I hope this helps to clarify at least some of the misconceptions contained on this blog.

Sincerely,
Martin

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 1 year, 5 months ago #32979

  • corran
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Oh please. C4 is the backer of the patent issue. They stated this in several different ways when the whole thing started. While they don't own the patent, c4 is the driving force behind this. Now that c4 has been identified as the predator that it is, marketing back-tracking has ensued to distance themselves from it. But the owners of C4 made no bones about it in the beginning, even going so far as to offer "royalty free rights" to certain companies in return for C4 producing boards in their factory (so they'd make the money this way).

C4 is the industry pariah. The companies waning sales and dwindling company image may have contributed to their ill thought-out move, but the claims made today of not being behind the patent trolling are directly counter to their original claims and boasts C4 made, both written and verbal.

What you're now doing is image "damage control". Too little. Too late.

I certainly won't sell my boards to any dealer who carries C4. I don't want to be anywhere near you, and while I would never suggest to a dealer that they drop C4 if they want to carry my line (which is illegal and constitutes interference of contractual relations) I certainly have no problem selling to a dealer who no longer carries C4 for their own reasons.

The problem with being an industry pariah is that you're treated like a leper. Well deserved I might add.

Luckily for me, none of my boards infringe on your so called patent so I can stand here and call this how it is, from a completely neutral standpoint. In fact it's in my interests for C4 to be successful as it ultimately increases the retail price of my competitors boards. But my view is more general- I want whats best for the sport and industry overall over my own personal interests - this cockamamie scheme of C4 is not in the overall global interest of our sport or our industry.

Go make your own money and stop trying to take other people's!

Corran

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 1 year, 5 months ago #32980

  • Jeroen
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This Google search gives a nice shortlist of who has been affected so far:

Google Search Results

Of course, I have no way of knowing how accurate or complete that list is: Surftech, Nalu Kai, ULI, NRS, Hobie, Coleman, Papa Hana.

Does any of those companies dare and care to speak here for the rest of us to learn from?
If you're happy, you're successful.

Re: Predator Patent trolls - C4 Waterman lost the aloha spirit? 1 year, 5 months ago #32981

  • corran
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Makes you want to own a C4 doesn't it!

NOT


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