Ski World Panics On Word that Marker Kingpin Discontinued

Post by blogger | June 29, 2017      


Yeah, that’s click and link bait.

I gathered from research that what’s actually happening is G3 won a judgment in a lawsuit for patent infringement by Marker, at least in part due to the similarity of the brake “hold down” retainer system that’s used in touring mode.

Panic is probably not necessary. Though it could have been fun listening to German language cursing which no doubt occurred. Is there a podcast?

Apparently Marker has pulled product from US sites in recognition of infringement of the G3 patent (though as of this writing, it appears Kingpin is still available at Backcountry dot com). The full judgment and court order is still pending. Ultimate outcome is thus still unknown but I’d imagine there will be a settlement that includes a licensing fee. Not exactly rending the fabric of the known ski universe.

Firstly, we’re understanding this may only apply in North America. Secondly, we’d imagine Marker will negotiate a settlement and continue selling their heavy duty hybrid tech binding. Thirdly, while we’ve seen statements as to the binding “not being on the Marker website!” our understanding is that Marker’s whole internet presence is being redesigned and the binding isn’t shown on the North American site for that reason — though yes that could be spin and we entertain the notion that Kingpin is off North American site because of this lawsuit.

You can still find the binding on their European pages. For example here. And the Kingpin niche site still exists here.

I know a lot of people in manufacturing. They’ve all told me at one time or another that this sort of patent dispute is very common. Happens for a lot of reasons: People think up the same stuff at around the same time, but the first patent filed is the only one. Sometimes companies do know they’re doing something similar to a patent, but the proceed anyway with redesigns to differentiate, and plan on legal maneuvers if necessary. Unless you’re a fly on the wall of both G3 and Marker, I’d advise not taking sides.

Google it up and you’ll find several articles.

Litigation documents are here.

Court docket.

EU G3 patent application.

US G3 patent.

The biggest chuckle in all this? It’s well known that both Marker and ION brakes tend to be finicky in how well they stay stowed in the touring position. Here at WildSnow, we like either having no brakes, or a brake that’s entirely divorced from the binding. We have to laugh at two companies fighting over what might be a problematic design. If Marker changes their brake instead of paying a license fee, that might make the world a better place. Ironic.

Interesting, but a bit of a yawner as well. One ski shop owner told me he’s had a 48 hour run on Kingpins. Get ’em while you can !?

Summer reading, we have a ton of Marker Kingpin content.

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23 Responses to “Ski World Panics On Word that Marker Kingpin Discontinued”

  1. Gary June 29th, 2017 9:23 pm

    You mentioned you prefer bindings with no brakes. I remenber when all skis had leashes or safety straps we called them. Then brakes came out and changed my world. Anyway now it seams a lot of people are going back to leashes. I have new skis for next season and trying to decide if I should use my Radical St or buy the Speed Radical. Other that weight why might you prefer bindings with no brakes?

  2. Drew June 29th, 2017 9:40 pm

    Switched to leashes this past season and I don’t think I’ll go back to brakes on my primary touring ski. For transitioning in less-than-ideal spots, I really liked being able to clip my ski to my boot before stepping into the toe piece thus minimizing the chances of sending my ski down without me. There’s a tiny learning curve but as long as you remember to deal with the leases first when putting your ski down on icy ridges, I find it safer. No real concerns about release either as I has my leashes rigged to break free under any significant force. Also seems like when you eliminate brakes there is just less that can go wrong with a binding. Simplicity is nice.

  3. Lee Lau June 30th, 2017 12:32 am

    There will be licensing fees exchanged. It’s a tempest in a teapot

  4. tucker June 30th, 2017 8:04 am

    Is there any realm where the involvement of lawyers had had a more negative affect on consumer experience than backcountry ski bindings? Arguing about who has the rights to a crappy way to hold an unnecessary, heavy accessory out of the freaking way (brakes). Shop owners afraid to carry a rental fleet of pintech bindings because they lack the DIN/ISO/BS silly piece of paper, and the lawyers have skiers convinced that they have a legal RIGHT not to hurt their knees while skiing?

    We had a decade of Dynafit pumping out small evolutions of the same basic idea, and then (my understanding is) some part of their patent exclusivity expired and now we have 4 or 5 major competitors in the pintech world filling all sorts of niches. Even Dynafit has been compelled to make dramatic changes (improvements?) in their design due (I think) to competitive pressure. Does anyone miss the days when the big new thing was the Vertical series of bindings? (Innovation! The heel risers are a triangle, not a circle! Torsion bar!)

    Sorry Lee, I know it’s your field and I really appreciate your contributions here. Just feeling a bit ranty this morning

  5. Lee Lau June 30th, 2017 10:52 am

    Tucker – none taken. I don’t think too kindly of personal injury and litigation. My work is in making business happen. So the whole suing everything under the sun side of the industry is bizarre; to me.

    I just think it’s bright of G3 to get itself a patent in the US and work on patents in Canada and the EU. And if they own some IP and want to enforce it then that’s their call/

  6. Lou Dawson 2 June 30th, 2017 12:12 pm

    Gary, I don’t always go without brakes, but when I do it’s for a variety of reasons including weight savings and elimination of a mechanical that doesn’t always work correctly. I mentioned that I like brakes such as Salomon-Atomic that are divorced from the binding, without clever ways of attempting to make them semi-automatic in terms of stowing them while in touring mode.


  7. Lou Dawson 2 June 30th, 2017 12:17 pm

    The help of smart accomplished lawyers has been part of all my business successes over the years. Lawyers are like any other group, good and bad, and then there are the people who hire them, nice, or mean… I’d of course agree our society is too litigious, but who’s fault exactly is that? Time for a look in the mirror? Lou

  8. XXX_er July 3rd, 2017 1:19 pm

    The words of Richard III (aka Dick the Butcher) in Shakespeare’s Henry the IV seem appropriate at this point

    “The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers.”

    Contrary to popular belief, the popular quote from proposal was not designed to restore sanity to commercial life. Rather, it was intended to eliminate those who might stand in the way of a contemplated revolution — thus underscoring the important role that lawyers can play in society.

    the last time I needed a lawyer it was to strap my boot to ski after Rad1 blew up, I havent seen the bill show up yet

  9. See July 5th, 2017 1:04 am

    Re. litigiousness: I’m a bit worked up about user license agreements, waivers, and such these days, so I hope you‘ll pardon a short rant. I recently saw a waiver that said something like “you or your next of kin can’t hold anyone responsible for anything, even in case of incompetence, gross negligence, larceny, fraud or attempted murder.” I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.

    Excessive litigiousness has had undesirable effects in skiing, health care, and many other areas, but requiring people to “agree” to almost anything (like surrendering their personal data, their right to trial by their peers, or their immortal soul) in order to use technology, get a job, go skiing, or engage in other essential aspects of daily life is not a good solution, in my opinion. And what does it say about our society when it becomes standard practice for people to attest to statements that they know are not true (did you really read that 25 page license agreement)?

    Happy 4th of July, you all. The Declaration of Independence is truly a document worth celebrating.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 July 5th, 2017 8:10 am

    See, my understanding from consults with various attorneys over the years is waivers are no big deal here in the U.S., in most cases they don’t obviate negligence (despite the wording), and on the other hand help business prevent frivolous and unreasonable lawsuits based on normal hazards and discomforts. They also serve as a method of user education when done in such a way as to get customers to actually read them.

    That’s not saying that excessive litigiousness isn’t an issue, just that the waivers are often only a small part of that.

    But not always. I’ve been perplexed over the last few years about how software companies such as Microsoft can sell what is clearly flawed junk that opens a wide door for criminals to ruin our lives, without any liability. Apparently, it’s all about the user license agreements…

    What I don’t understand is how a software company can skate on what to me is clearly negligence, but automobile manufacturers are constantly taken to task. Another example that geeks actually rule the world?

  11. See July 5th, 2017 10:01 am

    I used to believe that “you can’t sign away your rights,” but then I read this. . But what get’s to me (among other things) is the attitude that it’s no big deal to sign something, claim you read, understand and agree with it, write your name and print it and than initial the form, when none of that may be true. Something about that just doesn’t sit right with me. (And re. auto manufacturers, Takata got taken to task, and rightly so in my opinion.)

  12. See July 5th, 2017 10:16 am

    To be clear, I think this attitude is largely a consequence of the fact that you can’t legally use many essential tools these days if you don’t “agree.” But what are the side effects of this erosion of basic truthfulness?

  13. Big October 4th, 2017 7:03 am

    Anyone know what the damage was to Marker? Or estimates on how many Kingpin Bindings get sold per year in the US?

  14. Christian December 5th, 2017 10:59 am

    Anyone else seeing the poetic justice in regards to this issue and the “H” mounting pattern/”Marker Only” warning on the Volkl BMT series? I guess you could mount Marker frame AT bindings and still be in warranty, but the frame binding market isn’t so hot right now. Maybe this has come up in another thread…

  15. Rafa February 20th, 2018 7:06 am

    Hello Everyone,

    I run my own small blog in Polish, about freeride skiing. Among my friends and fellow freeriders, I recently noticed number of ACL’s torn or legs broken. There was number of stories, and all of them had common thing: Marker Kingpin. I started asking on Polish freeride forums, and to my astonishment – I received a number (10+) stories with kingpins not releasing as they should, causing serious injuries.

    I have not observed the same pattern some 5-7 years ago, when Dynafit dominated the market (I tried to get similar stories with Dynafit involved, but no luck). Marker is very aggressive in here, so now in Poland Kingpins are very popular (as Dynafits were in the past), but people really get hurt with them…

    question to you guys: do you have any similar observations?

  16. Lou 2 February 20th, 2018 7:39 am

    Hello Rafa, I’ve observed that many of the newer boot and binding combinations have odd release characteristics during bench testing. Some don’t release at all in any practical sense. I was dealing with just such a situation yesterday. Had to pull the bindings off the ski and go to a different brand-model. I saw this coming years ago, as there are still no industry standards that apply directly to classic tech and hybrid tech bindings. Until every binding is bench tested and only allowed out of the ski shop when it seems to have good, smooth release, you’ll perhaps see injuries caused by binding/boot combinations that really don’t have much of a safety release function.

    IMPORTANT: Nearly every skier I know adjusts their binding retention/release to settings that exceed those shown to prevent injury. This alone could account for any surge in injuries you are observing. Indeed, the first thing I ask people who have been hurt on tech bindings is what their release settings were, question number 2 is if they we’re skiing with binding toe locked.

    If you can ask any of those Kingpin skiers a few questions, or perhaps even obtain their skis and boots for testing, that’s where you want to go.


  17. Lou 2 February 20th, 2018 7:40 am

    P.S., what is a “small blog?” (smile)

  18. Rafa February 20th, 2018 7:56 am

    thanks for answer Lou!

    to answer your questions…

    RE#1: when I was collecting kingpin stories – I always asked about skier’s weight and style/experience along with binding settings… in most cases I heard sthg like “85 kgs, aggressive/experienced style” and DIN setting was e.g. 7 or 8, so in theory binding should easily be released (even w/o gathering extra info like boot size or skier’s height).

    RE#2: obviously fronts were always unlocked according to what people told me…

    myself – I was never insured with Kingpin (I skied few times on a rental or borrowed gear). it’s just about other people and repeating-repeating stories…

  19. See February 20th, 2018 8:07 am

    Relevant questions for sure, Lou. But if the toes are locked and/or the rv settings are cranked way up, most people probably wouldn’t say their bindings are “not releasing as they should” because they have intentionally impeded or blocked release. And some skiers using slightly higher settings than spec has been going on for as long as I can recall. Another question that might be worth asking is if the bindings failed to release laterally or vertically. Of course more information is better, especially if that include testing of the actual equipment involved.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 February 20th, 2018 9:20 am

    Rafa, for starters, you’d need to compare injury rates to those of alpine skiers on properly adjusted bindings… but if your statistical subjects were indeed skiing bindings with reasonable settings, toe unlocked, that’s something to consider. At the least, as I always suggest, those boot/binding combinations the injured skiers were using need to be placed on a workbench and measured evaluated. As Cam Shute at G3 says, if you don’t measure it don’t talk about it. So I’ll shut up (smile). Lou

  21. Lou Dawson 2 February 20th, 2018 9:27 am

    See, sure, more information should be acquired… as for how the binding “failed to release, lateral or vertical?” That in many cases would be impossible to answer, especially in very rapid, violent falls. Though sure, sometimes it’s pretty obvious. Overall, trying to analyse injury rates for ski touring binding models would be a lost cause without a fully organized very time consuming study done by professionals. I’d like to see it. Perhaps it’ll happen in a few decades, once we actually have an industry standard for tech bindings (smile) MTN

  22. Lou Dawson 2 February 20th, 2018 9:31 am

    By the way, I did acquire a Vermont binding release checker. It’s not exactly the best thing for rear-side release tech bindings, but works fine for comparative testing and does well for vertical as that’s pretty similar to alpine. I’m already getting some interesting results. For example, I discovered one of Lisa’s binding sets could not be adjusted low enough for her, due to incredibly strong toe springs, which larger skiers would appreciate but resulted in something like an RV 5 lateral without even using the heel unit! I won’t mention names in case that was an anomaly, but lesson as always is bench evaluate if you value your body. Lou

  23. See February 20th, 2018 9:40 am

    Good standards, methodologically sound studies are great. In the meantime we’re left mostly with anecdotal evidence? (I’m thinking seriously about a garage release tester.)

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