A CALL TO ARMS:
WHAT ALL FELLOW PLAYERS, PARENTS, LEAGUES, FANS & INNOVATORS NEED TO KNOW
WHO WE ARE
We are a group of fiercely dedicated former athletes, parents, and fans of the game with a passion to make football safer for our own children, current players, and the players of tomorrow.
S.A.F.E.Clip (Shock Absorbing Football Equipment) is the byproduct of a genuine desire to do our part to make football safer. We designed, engineered, and rigorously tested S.A.F.E.Clip with our own families, loved ones, and fellow athletes in mind. Our passion for creating an authentic product paired with our mission to prioritize safety is in our collective DNA.
S.A.F.E.Clip gained fully patented status (P#9750298B2) in 2017; a second patent is pending for Gen 2.
S.A.F.E.Clip is a division of Mayfield Athletics, LLC.
WHO WE ARE FIGHTING FOR
While we continue to grow S.A.F.E.Clip, we are not without challenges.
On September 16, 2019, Mayfield Athletics, through its legal counsel, filed official antitrust and tort litigation against the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and the nation’s leading helmet manufacturers.
Simply stated, we are fighting for every athlete, parent, coach, athletic director, equipment manager, and league owner previously denied access to using genuine, high quality, and lab-tested products that help to improve the safety and performance of a football helmet.
We are also fighting for our fellow aftermarket and add-on product companies who are victims of NOCSAE’s self-serving and cost-intensive processes for an illusory stamp of approval that—the organization itself has acknowledged—is virtually meaningless. Like you, we are a victim to NOCSAE’s various contradictory and ineffectual positions and statements which have empowered leading helmet manufacturers to operate as third-party gatekeepers for aftermarket and add-on products.
WHY WE FELT COMPELLED TO ACT
#1: NOCSAE Standards For Facemask Hardware Do Not Exist
From the beginning, we were perplexed to find no such NOCSAE standards exist for our product category. Moreover, NOCSAE has publicly and privately maintained that facemask attachment hardware is not certified and cannot be certified given the lack of NOCSAE standards for such hardware.
Furthermore, football helmet manufacturers, leagues, consumers, and even the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, rely heavily on compliance with NOCSAE standards. In fact, NOCSAE standards are written into most league rulebooks. As a result, pieces of equipment that do not meet NOCSAE standards and/or as to which no NOCSAE standard exists—such as S.A.F.E.Clip—are largely excluded from the national market for football safety equipment and accessories.
We felt compelled to act after several attempts to gain clarification from NOCSAE on the lack of standards went unanswered. In the meantime, despite S.A.F.E.Clip undergoing extensive testing at NOCSAE-approved labs to prove its effectiveness, our product (and others like ours) continue to be routinely discouraged by NOCSAE, helmet manufacturers, and refurbishers under false belief they do not meet NOCSAE standards.
Because of NOCSAE’s lack of standards in this category—and, seemingly, its lack of urgency to create such standards—players are discouraged by the aforementioned groups from using aftermarket or add-on products that help to make the game safer and, in some cases, may help to prevent injury.
#2: NOCSAE Has Empowered the Leading Helmet Manufacturers to Maintain a Monopoly on the Market
In the past, NOCSAE publicly stated that aftermarket and add-on product companies “have the right to make their own certification of compliance with the NOCSAE standards on a helmet,” but with a catch—the certification and claims against warranty violations become that of the aftermarket or add-product (not the helmet manufacturer), an extensive and costly process smaller or start-up companies may not have the capabilities to absorb.
As recently as May 2018, NOCSAE posted an official press release revising its previous position on aftermarket and add-on helmet products. This time, NOCSAE expressly clarified that helmet manufacturers may, at their sole discretion, void their certifications, allow their certifications to remain unaffected, or engage in additional certification testing whenever add-products are used with their products. Such statements and positions have empowered helmet manufacturers to operate as third-party gatekeepers for aftermarket and add-on products.
Why is this particularly important? Federal law prevents a manufacturer from disclaiming or voiding a warranty for the addition of an aftermarket product.
#3: NOCSAE is Primarily Funded Through Revenue Generated from Equipment Manufacturers
NOCSAE’s financial viability is directly dependent on funds received from the nation’s leading helmet manufacturers as it charges a per-unit fee for use of its trademarked NOCSAE logo(s) or phrase(s) on the products themselves, as well as product packaging, instructions, documentation, or marketing materials.
This creates an unfair advantage as the leading helmet manufacturers benefit from the sale of NOCSAE-licensed products, as well as the exclusion of other aftermarket or add-on products that fail to meet, or, as in S.A.F.E.Clip’s case, are unable to meet, NOCSAE standards.
#4: NOCSAE Claims it Does Not Certify Any Product—Yet its Influence Makes Us Believe Otherwise
Despite its self-appointed status as the leading standards-setting organization, as well as its various lucritive licensing agreements with the leading helmet manufacturers to use its logo(s) and phrase(s) to market products, NOCSAE itself claimed in 2013, “it does not certify any product…it does not ‘approve’ or ‘disapprove’ of any product.” Such statements undermine any foundation for concluding that a helmet’s “certification” to NOCSAE standards has any meaning with any identifiable standards. Yet, as companies like ours have discovered, NOCSAE’s years of superficial authority and influence makes both consumers and leagues extremely unlikely to purchase a product that has not been “certified” or shown to meet NOCSAE standards—even if it is improves the safety of the game.
WHAT OUR RECENT FILING MEANS FOR YOU
Antitrust laws are intended to safeguard competition and commerce, protect consumers from the failure of the market, deter anticompetitive conduct, and compensate persons and entities harmed by anticompetitive conduct. Acts prohibited by the antitrust laws include, among other things, attempts to form a monopoly or to collude in a manner that prevents or stifles competition in the market.
Mayfield Athletics, along with its legal counsel, have gathered significant evidence indicating the existence of multiple contracts, combinations, and/or conspiracies between the nation’s leading helmet manufacturers and NOCSAE to maintain a monopoly on the market for football safety equipment and accessories—excluding genuine, scientifically-proven products, such as S.A.F.E.Clip and other manufacturers of aftermarket and add-on helmet products—from the national market for such products.
If you have been told that adding an aftermarket or add-on product to a helmet violates the manufacturer’s warranty and/or voids a helmet’s certification of compliance with NOCSAE standards, you are a victim to this same scheme.
To read the official Compliant, click here.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
If you are a fellow aftermarket or add-product manufacturer, and wish to share your story, please contact us.
If you are a player (past or present) or parent, and are interested in contributing to our complaint, please contact us.
If you are interested in becoming an advocate for S.A.F.E.Clip, we want to work with you. Contact us to get started.
If you are a consumer, and wish to share your voice or story with us, please contact us.
Pictured (left to right): Diane Hewson (Legal Counsel), Rich Williams (COO), Justin Summerville (CEO), James Hewson (Legal Counsel)
Pictured (left to right): Justin Summerville (CEO) and Rich Williams (COO) remain actively involved in the engineering, testing, and installation processes at S.A.F.E.Clip.
Ulitmately, our goal is to make the game of football safer for players all across the nation, regardless of age, size, or league.