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  1. #1
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    Specialized Bullying Small Bike Shop Owner

    Disheartening...

    Calagary Herald Article #1 - War vet forced to change bike shop?s name after threat from Specialized | Calgary Herald

    A Canadian veteran of the Afghanistan war who operates a tiny bicycle shop in Cochrane is being forced to change his store’s name after being threatened with a lawsuit by one of the giants of the U.S. bike industry.

    Dan Richter, owner of Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio, located above the famous Mackay’s Ice Cream in Cochrane, says he received a letter from the lawyers of big bicycle maker Specialized several months ago, demanding he change the store’s name because the company owns the trademark on the word Roubaix, which they use to market a brand of road bike.

    Read more from the Calgary Herald Pedal Blog

    Richter, however, says he didn’t name his store after the company’s bike, rather after a region in France that hosts one of the most famous bike races in the world, the gruelling 117-year-old Paris-Roubaix. Because the name is an icon of bike culture, and graces hundreds of other products from bike tires to a brand of cycling tights sold by MEC (and even other road bikes), Richter says he has a good case to keep the store name, but is capitulating because he can’t afford a legal fight in court.

    “It’s been frustrating,” Richter told me. “The response throughout this process (from Specialized) has been arrogant and almost unbelievably dismissive.

    “We didn’t want to go public . . . but they’ve made it clear on no uncertain terms, they are going to sue.”

    Larry Koury, managing director of Specialized Canada Inc., said the company is simply defending its legally owned trademark.

    “A simple trademark search would have prevented this,” Koury wrote in an email, along with a reference to the federal government’s trademark database showing Specialized’s registration of the word Roubaix. “We are required to defend or lose our trademark registration.”

    Dan Richter, pictured at his store in Cochrane Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio.
    Dan Richter, pictured at his store in Cochrane Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio.

    Richter, who says the running the bike shop has helped him deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder that ended his military career, says he did some research and felt comfortable that naming his store after a location like Roubaix wouldn’t contradict Canada’s intellectual property protection laws. He doesn’t think the name confuses anybody shopping for bikes. His store sells high-end bikes and his handmade wheels in an Italian-cycling inspired environment. He does not sell Specialized products.

    Your ideas on staying warm without the sweat while winter cycling

    “I understand the need for the protection of intellectual property, but this is named after a city known worldwide for this race,” Richter said. “For our customer base, there’s an appeal (with the name Roubaix). Our market understands that race, and it reflects what we want to provide for them.”

    Richter says his lawyer thinks they have a good case to make, but the fight could cost upwards of $150,000 in legal fees, a price too steep for his small company.

    Changing his company’s name isn’t as simple as erecting a new sign, Richter says. He has been selling custom wheels under that name for about a year and has operated the store since March, all of which has helped him build an formidable brand, reputation and online presence. Being forced to adopt a new moniker means he will have to start anew, an expensive and time-consuming prospect.

    “I’ve gone through some very intense (post-traumatic stress disorder) therapy in the last year. Forcing myself to get out there into the public and the business world has taken a huge effort,” he says. “I’m just at the point were we think this might fly, so this was a huge hit for me personally.”


    Other Articles:

    Bicycle Retailer Article - Social media explosion over Specialized's Roubaix lawsuit | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News


    Calgary Herald Article - Roubaix bike shop owner ?humbled? by support in fight with Specialized | Calgary Herald


    Blog Article - The Explainer: Because I @#$%ing hate bullies : Red Kite Prayer

    Thread on the MTBR Specialized Form - Shame on Specialized
    Marty

  2. #2
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    I have been a fan of Specialized and have owned several bikes over the years.

    As a small business owner, I find Specialized's bullying appalling and will think twice before buying any more products from them.

  3. #3
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    Just one more reason for me to not like the big S.
    ONE SHOX, ONE GEAR, LOTS of FUN! www.TrailFu.com My Rides

  4. #4
    Ahhh the pain....
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    yeah, this is concerning but sure seems like its no different than what Walmart does. They basically bully their whole supply base by squeezing them hard. Seems like the consumer benefits, but in reality it drives the competition out of business.

    I'm not currently a S bike owner, but came near to pulling the trigger simply because of the deal I was going to get and the warranty. Less interested now.
    Your limits are both physical and mental. Suffering will help you find and overcome both.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    yeah, this is concerning but sure seems like its no different than what Walmart does. They basically bully their whole supply base by squeezing them hard. Seems like the consumer benefits, but in reality it drives the competition out of business.

    I'm not currently a S bike owner, but came near to pulling the trigger simply because of the deal I was going to get and the warranty. Less interested now.
    I've never owned a Specialized bike (and never will), and I'm pretty sure I have little if any Specialized "gear." But correct me if I'm wrong, Specialized bikes are pretty expensive compared to other brands.
    Nobody gives a s#$t you singlespeed.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casual Observer View Post
    I've never owned a Specialized bike (and never will), and I'm pretty sure I have little if any Specialized "gear." But correct me if I'm wrong, Specialized bikes are pretty expensive compared to other brands.
    I agree with you, also considering how big they are. You would think that economies of scale would play a factor, and the prices would be better. I own one, bought from the shop I worked at, and really wouldn't want another. Great bikes, but they seem way too proud of them. And the shop I worked at was bullied and S wanted them to be exclusively an S dealer. Thankfully the shop didn't change.
    “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”
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    You don't get to the top by being a pu$$y. If S is considered a bully it's only because they are protecting what they built. I've owned 3 Spesh bikes. That said, I wouldn't buy a fourth. Companies like Pivot and Ibis have helped me see the light.

  8. #8
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    I think the issue comes down to trademark protection. Specialized has to do it to defend their trademark. If the shop has been open a 18 months to a year... Then Specialized had the trademark before this and really the shop is the problem. If the shop had the name for 20 years then he maybe in a stronger point.

    I feel bad for the small business guy, but this sort of thing happens and being in the bike business should have known. Now it was a risk. Now if Cafe Roubaix were just a french bistro with nothing bike related it would be different.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    Looks like specialized specializes in suing people.

    Litigation

    In 2006 Specialized sued Mountain Cycle over its use of the model name "Stumptown" (nickname for Portland), alledging it resembled the Specialized model name Stumpjumper.[17] Mountain Cycle closed doors shortly thereafter.

    In 2011 Portland wheel builder Epic Wheel Works was forced to change its name due to potential trademark conflict with Specialized.[18]

    In 2012 the company sued two former employees after they started the bicycle brand Volagi. Specialized lost on all accounts except one and was awarded one dollar in damages after spending 2.5 million dollars on the lawsuit.[19][20]

    In 2013 Specialized sued a small bike shop owner in Canada, owned by a veteran soldier, over its use of the French city name Roubaix in its shop name.

    Specialized Bicycle Components - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  10. #10
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    what next, Massengil suing Vassago ?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    I think the issue comes down to trademark protection. Specialized has to do it to defend their trademark. If the shop has been open a 18 months to a year... Then Specialized had the trademark before this and really the shop is the problem. If the shop had the name for 20 years then he maybe in a stronger point.

    I feel bad for the small business guy, but this sort of thing happens and being in the bike business should have known. Now it was a risk. Now if Cafe Roubaix were just a french bistro with nothing bike related it would be different.
    And I'm sure going after a small LBS is going to do wonders for their image. No, they don't have to do this. Yes, they CAN. They don't have to.

    And as others have pointed out in other venues, how come they are not going after Fuji (
    http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/roubaix-11)?

    I really hope the backlash stings a bit!
    Nobody gives a s#$t you singlespeed.

  12. #12
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    Seems silly for S to have pursued it... I bet the shop owner will receive a bump in business from all the attention this has gathered though.

    I think he should leverage the situation and start a business naming contest. Names that make fun of big S get extra points.

  13. #13
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    the white house is filing a defamation suit against the Orbea Alma bike claiming the seatpost is always sticking itself up people's asses
    _R E AL
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casual Observer View Post
    And I'm sure going after a small LBS is going to do wonders for their image. No, they don't have to do this. Yes, they CAN. They don't have to.

    And as others have pointed out in other venues, how come they are not going after Fuji (
    http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/roubaix-11)?

    I really hope the backlash stings a bit!
    Jeff, I am with Joe on this one. I am fairly certain that you HAVE to defend your trademark or risk losing it. Also, as a business owner, I can tell you that it is very important to research the name you are going to use BEFORE you go into business with that name. My question to the owner is did he do his research and, if so, why did he proceed with naming his company with a trademarked word or phrase? He seems like a good guy and his shop looks cool.

    As someone who was close to opening up a Specialized shop in the NW valley, I can tell you that I was very much put off by the rep's intimidation tactics during our conversations. It was one of the reasons I decided against the idea.

    As someone who is looking for a great deal, I have purchased 2 end of year model Specialized bikes from my LBS and saved HUGE. I like both bikes very much and also really like their helmets & shoes. Plus, their warranty is top notch.
    -boom

  15. #15
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    Specialized
    Last edited by Douger-1; 12-09-2013 at 12:53 PM.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  16. #16
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    So, I guess you don't have DrunkCyclist on your Facebook feed? Literally, every day for the last week, it's been 20 posts a day, all of them with a central theme of "Fcuk Specialized."

    Was it a dick move? Yeah, but damn people, there's actual issues to rage over.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    I think the issue comes down to trademark protection. Specialized has to do it to defend their trademark. If the shop has been open a 18 months to a year... Then Specialized had the trademark before this and really the shop is the problem. If the shop had the name for 20 years then he maybe in a stronger point.

    I feel bad for the small business guy, but this sort of thing happens and being in the bike business should have known. Now it was a risk. Now if Cafe Roubaix were just a french bistro with nothing bike related it would be different.
    horseshit. they've probably lost more in legal fees and keeping a team of lawyers on retainer than they've lost to this guy for "trademark infringement." he's been open over a year as a LBS and wheel builder; undoubtedly the two most lucrative areas of the bicycle industry.

    and S trying to justify the action with "defend the trademark or lose it"? they could have easily turned a blind eye to a one man LBS operation.

  18. #18
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    Conversely, there's the way Jack Daniels decided to handle it:

    Jack Daniel's Sends the Most Polite Cease-and-Desist Letter Ever

  19. #19
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    read The Explainer article cited by the OP, it will paint a more informed picture of the law and how S is using the cost of a legal battle they can not win to deter the LBS.

  20. #20
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    hmmmm , I don't like Specialized's tactics, but it seems to me they pick "relatively" obscure names to trademark, like stumpjumper, allez, roubaix etc... I don't they can ( or would even attempt) to trademark stuff like bike, tire, mountain, etc...

    It sucks for this guy, but a smart business owner would likely check out trademark names before naming the shop... sorry for the buzz kill... but that is a fact of doing busines...
    fat old man ... fueled by Mexican pastries....

  21. #21
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    I didn't realize this but Specialized trademarked the work "Epic"
    Specialized's disastrous trademark case is unnecessary to defend the brand - VeloNews.com

    I guess the Epic Rides races must have an agreement with Specialized...
    fat old man ... fueled by Mexican pastries....

  22. #22
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    I guess I am confused how are allowed to trademark the name of a place that existed a long time before the Specialized bike. I can totally understand this shop owners frustration. Regardless of his situation being a vet etc. It is still a crappy situation to be in. I hope it all works out.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomvader View Post
    Jeff, I am with Joe on this one. I am fairly certain that you HAVE to defend your trademark or risk losing it. Also, as a business owner, I can tell you that it is very important to research the name you are going to use BEFORE you go into business with that name. My question to the owner is did he do his research and, if so, why did he proceed with naming his company with a trademarked word or phrase? He seems like a good guy and his shop looks cool.

    As someone who was close to opening up a Specialized shop in the NW valley, I can tell you that I was very much put off by the rep's intimidation tactics during our conversations. It was one of the reasons I decided against the idea.

    As someone who is looking for a great deal, I have purchased 2 end of year model Specialized bikes from my LBS and saved HUGE. I like both bikes very much and also really like their helmets & shoes. Plus, their warranty is top notch.
    Like I said, I hope the backlash stings. I, in no way, support what Specialized is doing.
    Nobody gives a s#$t you singlespeed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    hmmmm , I don't like Specialized's tactics, but it seems to me they pick "relatively" obscure names to trademark, like stumpjumper, allez, roubaix etc... I don't they can ( or would even attempt) to trademark stuff like bike, tire, mountain, etc...

    It sucks for this guy, but a smart business owner would likely check out trademark names before naming the shop... sorry for the buzz kill... but that is a fact of doing busines...
    I don't thnk you know anything about road biking, cause what you've said above is quite ignorant. Trademarking Roubaix is like trademarking 'road bike' or 'race'. Trademarking allez is akin to trademarking 'go team!' Using the threat of your bottomless legal funds on a case you will eventually lose anyway is a play from Big Tobacco.

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