Our sister publication Snow Goer alerted us to a story about the founder of Timbersled snowbike conversion kits being sued by Polaris. Allen Mangum sold the brand to Polaris several years ago and is now being accused of stealing intellectual property and trade secrets after he announced he was starting a competing snowbike brand.
Mangum started Timbersled 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,” says Snow Goer editor, John Prusak.
Mangum left Polaris in 2020 to launch MTN.Top Snowbikes. The contents of his YouTube videos and podcasts he made announcing the brand are key evidence in Polaris’ lawsuit.
In a story on the StarTribune newspaper out of Minneapolis, a Polaris spokesperson is quoted as saying the lawsuit is “a necessary step to protect Polaris’ intellectual property and investment in innovation.”
Prusak notes that the snowmobile market has seen a fair share of lawsuits over the years related to IP issues from a previous employer that was later used in the aftermarket when 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,” says Snow Goer editor, John Prusak.