Alpinestars & Dainese Head to Court Over Airbag Systems

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Airbag technology is the future of safety in the motorcycle industry, of this much I am certain.

Intelligent airbag suits allow for a level of impact protection previously unheard of in the motorcycle industry, or any industry for that matter, and the effects are already obvious both at the pinnacles of our sport and at the consumer level.

The business side of all this is incredibly lucrative, especially for companies who are inventing in this space and patenting their work. As such, it should probably not surprise us to learn that Alpinestars and Dainese have headed to court over their two respective airbag brands: Tech Air and D-Air.

As Asphalt & Rubber understands the situation, Alpinestars initiated the legal battle by sending a cease and desist letter to Dainese, alleging the use of infringing technology in the Dainese D-Air products.

Dainese says it has already won an injunction in the German market, which is brought against an Alpinestars Tech Air dealer. Dainese is now looking for damages from Alpinestars, in the German market. Alpinestars has denied any legal action in Germany, and that Dainese has only sent cease and desist letters to Tech Air dealers.

Regardless, Alpinestars retailers in Germany have pulled their Tech Air offerings, though Alpinestars assures us that it will continue to sell its Tech-Air Street systems in the German market.

It is worth noting of course that Dainese’s actions in Germany are not without some backstory, as Alpinestars’ has licensed its Tech Air suits to BMW Motorrad, a partnership that originally started with BMW and Dainese working together.

Both companies agree though that legal proceedings are currently occurring in Italy, where Alpinestars says the lawsuit centers around patent technology that concerns the physical material that the airbags use in their construction.

Legal proceedings in Italy are expected to settle the dispute between the two brands, and for now, the legal battle seems to be only in the European markets, as Alpinestars has been slow to rollout its Tech Air product elsewhere, namely the United States, and thus there are fewer markets of overlap.

The outcome of the lawsuit in Italy will likely affect how things play out in the world market, and the potential is that a sole manufacturer of self-contained airbag apparel could emerge in the motorcycle industry.

If that is the case, it would be a boon to the victor, who would then be in control of the most revolutionary safety equipment to hit the motorcycle industry in the past few decades.

However, that boon would come at the detriment to  motorcycle enthusiasts, as monopolies rarely bode well for the consumer.

In addition to the everyday rider, these events could cause ripples in the racing ranks as well, as the inability to include airbag technology with their suits, could materially affect an apparel company’s ability to retain high-level riders who are concerned with safety.

That thought is timely too, as the Grand Prix Commission is considering a push to make airbag race suits mandatory in premier classes of motorcycle racing, and thus this would likely a sole-supplier for all the riders in MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 – though licensing schemes are already showing up in this space.

As you can tell, it goes without saying that the outcome of this legal battle will have big consequences in the motorcycle industry. Stay tuned to Asphalt & Rubber for updates regarding these proceedings.

Alpinestars has issued a press release regarding this news. You can read the press release here. Dainese has also issued a press release, in response to Alpinestars. You can read that press release here. This story has been updated to reflect the statements from those two brands.

Source: Alpinestars & Dainese