How an innovative bike tech company fought for its intellectual property rights in China
Tags: IPRs, SMBs and SMEs
A Customer Story
Cutting-edge biking technology
Founded by three friends, U.S.-based company Redshift Sports offers cutting-edge bike components, from shockproof seat posts to LED-light pedals. All its products are designed, tested and hand-assembled in its Philadelphia warehouse before being sold online to customers and stores around the world.
Co-founder and engineer Erik de Brun explains that the company started with a single product idea in 2013. Then, the team used a crowdfunding platform to test the market, and it turns out the market was more than ready for Redshift; within a handful of years, the company grew from three employees to 15.
With such skyrocketing growth, Redshift started protecting its intellectual property, registering patents and trademarks in North America and Europe, where the bulk of its customers was. It also helped that Europe’s IP laws are simpler to navigate for U.S. companies, Erik says, making it easier for them to enter the market.
In its early days, Redshift had fewer customers in Asia, but the number steadily increased over the years — and with growth in countries like China came unique IP challenges.
Intellectual property Infringement in China
The problem began in 2020: Redshift launched a new product, and within a few months, the team started noticing Redshift-branded products that the company did not actually produce, being sold on various Asian marketplace websites.
While Redshift had U.S. and European trademarks, it hadn’t registered its IP in China, meaning its IP wasn’t protected. “When you’re just a small company, and no one knows who you are, it’s not really a concern,” Erik says. “But it does become a concern when you have more exposure.”
And Redshift has spent years building its reputation as a trusted, top-tier company. “Some of our customers, as well as another cycling brand, reached out to us to ask if we were selling particular products under our brand,” Erik says. “And of course, no, we were not selling those items – it was someone using Photoshop.”
Leaching onto Redshift’s brand reputation, third parties were selling items like generic bike saddles with Redshift’s logo on them or selling photo-manipulated items that didn’t even exist.
Both are equally bad, Erik says, confusing customers on top of selling unsafe cycling equipment that doesn’t meet Redshift’s standards. “That’s probably the biggest concern for us because we put a huge amount of effort into producing top quality and thoroughly tested products,” he says.
Looking for intellectual property protection Solutions
To get ahead of the issue, Redshift launched an investigation and found a lot more of these IP infringements than they had originally suspected. Erik explains that, while the company did use automatic searches to monitor any IP infringements, they mostly focused on markets where they had the most customers, like Canada, Australia, Europe, and the U.K. — not China.
What’s more, IP laws in China are different from the ones in North America. “It was a whole new experience for us trying to navigate trademark and IP rights in China,” Erik says. “It’s intimidating.”
But, realizing that the Asia market is a key player in Redshift’s future, Erik and his team decided to fight for their IP rights. “It’s important for us to maintain and grow our reputation in Asia,” he says. “It was clear that we needed to try to shore up our IP.”
Trustiics to the rescue
Erik turned to their U.S.-based lawyer for help who, in turn, recommended Trustiics. Headquartered in Canada, Trustiics is an online platform serving small to medium-sized enterprises, connecting business owners with overseas legal services through a pay-as-you-go model with transparent service pricing.
“It was a great initial experience,” Erik says. “Trustiics arranged for us to talk with a lawyer who specialized in IP law in China so we could quickly determine if it was worth investing the time and money necessary to get the protection we needed.”
When dealing with IP issues in China, it’s vital that companies hire legal counsel within the country, as those individuals will know not only the laws but also the language and culture. With Trustiics, clients choose the legal service that they require and place an order using a credit card.
All security deposits go through an escrow account, linked to a Canadian bank. Trustiics monitors all financial transactions, handling international payments and money wiring to guarantee a smooth, safe and reliable payment process, with no risk on the client’s end.
Through Trustiics, Redshift was connected with China-based attorney, Zheng Hong. All of Trustiics’ 300+ legal professionals have gone through a rigorous vetting process, which includes identity and qualifications checks, clarifying areas of expertise, and contacting professional references.
Once Trustiics’ team identified Zheng as the best fit, they set up a Zoom call between Zheng and Redshift. “It was really helpful to be able to work with a lawyer who was used to helping North American companies,” Erik says.
With Zheng’s guidance, Erik and his team were able to take all-important steps like registering trademarks in a number of Asian countries. (Create a free account to Send a direct request to Mr. Zheng)
Looking to the future
Erik has recently posted two new jobs on Trustiics’ marketplace. “I don’t know what we would have done without Trustiics,” he says. “We might have just said we’re going to ignore this [problem] and hope that it goes away. Trustiics removes the very intimidating legwork [of finding the right lawyer].”
Plus, with Trustiics’ diligent payment monitoring and Canada-linked escrow account, Redshift’s team knows that they can continue to use Trustiics for safe and risk-free transactions, even when re-hiring the same China-based lawyer for counsel.
With a new series of trademarks in Asia, Redshift Sports is poised to expand into the continent and, with Trustiics just one click away, fight any IP infringements that might come up. “It’s been a very positive experience,” Erik says. “The most important thing is having legal counsel that you can rely on, and that’s why we will continue to use Trustiics.”
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