It’s the year 2015 and the sport of lacrosse has come a long way since the days I played in Anne Arundel County toward the end the 90’s. Possibly the most historically important advances in the sport are in the evolution and innovation of the equipment. As a lacrosse player who graduated in 1999 the options for which lacrosse stick you could use were much more limited than they are now. For instance in my heyday every player in the county used one of three sticks. the Viper, Excalibur, and Turbo.
That all changed on December 5th, 2005 when two inventors, James T. Dill, & William H. Brine III decided to file for U.S. Patent number US5651549A. This was the day that the first offset lacrosse head was made and protected by the governing laws of the United States. The patent describes the invention in the following way, “The lacrosse stick involves a specified relationship between the plane defined by the uppermost surface of the stick element, taken at its forward end, relative to the location of the center of gravity of the head.”
This invention changed the sport of lacrosse for every player around me at the time From that date on each and every player I knew was using a Brine Edge. It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine the freedom a player felt as they cradled with their first off set head. The gravity of the ball took control of the heads rotation, freeing the player’s mind to focus more on their surroundings. It retained the ball, and gave offensive player’s an insane confidence; I could see the disbelief in every defenseman whose check has failed to dislodge the ball. It changed everything.”
From then on every company involved in making lacrosse sticks was trying to figure out how to compete and recreate this lower center of gravity feel in their products. At one point STX tried to use a different technology called the “cant” when they came out with their first series of protons, while other companies either licensed the use of this new technology from the Brine Corporation or pretty much copied the whole idea leading them into huge lawsuits. The patent is currently owned by Warrior Sports Inc. after a merger with the Brine Corporation on December 3rd, 2008. According to law U.S. Patents filed after June 8, 1995 expire 20 years from the date of filing. This would mean that this patent will expire on December 5th, 2015. Ending the reign and allowing other companies to use this tech as their own with no legal ramifications.
Now the big question is what will happen next? This by no means will make Brine and Warrior heads any different however will lead to the unrestrained use of the offset technology by other companies in the industry such as STX, Under Armour and Maverik. The industry is growing at phenomenal rate and every company is striving to be the leader in the marketplace. For everyone to have an equal chance in production of quality products is not only exciting but necessary.
The expiration of this patent could possibly lead to the next cutting edge advancement in the mechanics of a lacrosse stick. Competition leads to innovation and I for one am excited and cannot wait to see and use the next big thing.