Two local jump rope makers are tied in a knot over a licensing deal.
Jump Rope Systems (JRS) in Louisville owns two patents designed to make jump rope cables swing faster than a playground game of double-dutch.
Smith Ventures in Denver, which makes fitness equipment under the names Gibson Athletic and Rage Fitness, licensed those patents in 2012 and started making the Rage R1 Speed Rope with the same injection mold, or die.
But in a complaint filed July 16 in Denver district court, JRS says Smith missed a quarterly royalty payment due at the end of October and is now infringing on the jump rope patents.
“After over three years, Smith terminated its license for the patented technology, but has refused to cease selling infringing products or return the die to Mr. Borth,” the complaint says. “JRS is thus forced to bring this lawsuit to protect its investment, the resulting hard-earned intellectual property rights, and the die still in Smith’s possession.”
Jump Rope Systems is an offshoot of JumpnRope gym, which was founded as a fitness program by competitive jump roper Molly Metz in 2005.
In addition to the gym, Metz developed the handle design for a line of faster-swinging jump ropes, using a ball-bearing system. JumpnRope now sells the jump ropes on its website. She and Borth are listed as the inventors on two patents.
Jump Rope Systems declined comment through its legal counsel, Christopher L. Limpus of the Boulder law firm Limpus + Limpus. Smith Ventures did not respond to messages seeking comment.
According to the complaint, patent inventor Paul Borth emailed Smith notes in September, November and December seeking the royalty payment. He tried to retrieve the mold, but was rebuffed.
“That’s not going to happen today,” Smith’s CEO told Borth, according to the complaint.
Smith later wrote JRS a check for the missed royalty payment, the complaint says, but JRS decided not to cash the check since and told Smith that the license deal was off as per their agreement.
As of Monday, Rage continues to list the Rage R1 Speed Rope on its website.
Rage Fitness was started in 2008 by Denver-based gymnastics and ballet equipment company Gibson Athletic, which was founded in the early 1970s. The brand caters to CrossFit gyms with equipment like medicine balls and kettlebells.
The Rage brand soon eclipsed Gibson in sales revenue, owners Tamara and Brian Smith told Company Week in 2014. To grow its product line-up further, the company planned to license inventions, including one for the “world’s fastest speed jump rope.”
Company Week reported that Gibson made $12.5 million in 2013 and had 90 employees. It is based at 13333 E. 37th Ave. in Denver.
According to its website, Rage Fitness products are sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Play It Again Sports and other retailers, and online.