Pearl Izumi have filed a lawsuit against Slipstream Sports and their Garmin-Transitions cycling team over 12 cutting-edge ‘winged’ time trial suits.
The Colorado-based company have demanded the return of the suits – which they gave to the ProTour team in June before being replaced as the squad's clothing sponsors by rivals Castelli– and any information relating to their design. They're also claiming damages for the alleged theft of their intellectual property.
According to DailyCamera.com, a news website based in Boulder, Colorado, Pearl Izumi asked the team to return the ultra-aerodynamic suits in mid-July but they refused. Last week, Castelli announced they'd signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Slipstream, prompting the lawsuit.
Slipstream say that not only have they done nothing wrong but they – not Pearl Izumi – have done the lion's share of the development work on the suit. In a statement released today, they said: "Slipstream Sports are and always have been committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology. We do this with the goal of giving our athletes the best possible equipment and the biggest technological advantages within the ethical guidelines we've set for ourselves.
"With this in mind, Slipstream Sports developed and tested the wing suit technology. Slipstream Sports put hundreds of hours of testing into this technology independent of Pearl Izumi. While we regret that Pearl have pursued this action, the fact is that Slipstream spent years developing this technology. However, we remain grateful for their sponsorship and will continue to represent them through the end of our agreement."
Pearl Izumi had sponsored the team for two years. The company's marketing director, Geoff Schaffer, spoke with BikeRadar today, but he declined to comment on the lawsuit.
In the press release announcing their sponsorship of Slipstream, Castelli's racing performance director Andrea Peron, a former pro rider with such teams as Motorola, Once and CSC, said: “This multi-year agreement to provide clothing to all levels gives us continued access to valued input from the world’s top pros, both men and women.
“We've created a joint research and development program working with Robby Ketchell, the team’s sport science director, and we've outlined an innovation agenda focused on making the athletes as fast as possible in every racing condition.” Pearl Izumi's lawsuit names Ketchell as a defendant, according to the Daily Camera.