The founder of the Timbersled line of snowbike conversion kits is being sued by Polaris, the company to which he he sold the brand, for alleged theft of intellectual property and trade secrets after he announced he was starting a different brand of snowbikes.
Allen Mangum started the Timbersled company way back in 2001, building suspension parts and other components for mountain snowmobiles. What we call “Timbersleds” today were originally created as Timbersled’s Mountain Horse snowbike conversion kits in 2009-10, and they revolutionized the snowbike market. That changed the direction of the company, and Polaris ended up purchasing Timbersled in 2015 for an undisclosed amount of money.
Mangum stayed on with Polaris’ Timbersled division for five years before leaving the company in 2020. Then, last fall he did a round of online interviews announcing the launch of MTN. Top Snowbikes. The contents of those interviews is key – Polaris’ suit specifically calls upon statements made by Mangum in YouTube videos and podcasts.
In a story on the StarTribune newspaper out of Minneapolis, a Polaris spokesperson is quoted as saying the the lawsuit is “a necessary step to protect Polaris’ intellectual property and investment in innovation.”
Timbersled Vs. Magnum
It’ll be interesting to see where this whole thing goes from here.
The snowmobile market has seen other lawsuits over the years related to ideas an individual came up with while working at a company that was later acted upon in the aftermarket, after the person left the company. The question often then becomes when did the person actually think up the idea, and are there documents/drawings/emails or other proof that the concept dates back to the time of employment. We’re no lawyers, but have read in other lawsuits in powersports and beyond where, even if a company doesn’t act upon an idea, the idea belongs to the company if it was created while they were paying you a full-time salary to create products for them.
To be very clear, we have no idea if that applies in this case and are not trying to speculate anything about this particular legal action, we’re just offering some context.
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