What’s in a name?
If you have been paying attention it seems like Specialized is up to it’s old tricks again. This time making a little shop in Cochrane Alberta change it’s name from Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio because the big S has the name Roubaix trademarked. Everyone is all up in arms over this and I agree…it’s stupid, but not the first time that the Morgan Hill company has played this game.
One of the little frame shops on Vancouver Island had to deal with this back in 2005, back then they were called Epic Ti but one day they received a letter from Specialized that they have the word Epic trademarked and that they have to change their name. They changed their name to Everti and never looked back.
The next time I heard about Specialized flexing it’s trademark muscles was against the once beloved Mountain Cycle out of Portland Oregon and their use of the Stumptown (a nickname for Portland for over 150 years) name for their Cyclocross bike. I guess Stumptown was just too close to Stumpjumper…because that’s logical right? This helped bring Mountain Cycle to it’s knees, they laid off a bunch of staff and were sold shortly after.
In doing some research I found a few more small businesses who where visited by the Specialized trademark fairy. The first was Epic Wheel Works (now Sugar Wheel Works) who was actually proactive and contacted Specialized when she was looking to expand into a new space, but was slapped down by their lawyers who told her to change the name of her company.
Click here to read the story behind the Sugar Wheel Works name changeNext up we have Epic Designs (now Relevate Designs) out of Anchorage Alaska. I could not find much about this one, but from what I gather the name change came after the suites sent them a letter like the other small business’s above.I doubt this is the end of Specialized’s trademark crusade but what I didn’t know until just a little while ago is if you start going after people for trademark infringement, you have to go after everybody, there is no picking and choosing who can use a name you have trademarked and who can.Some of my favourite vloggers have been dealing with this same issue as the big S, but handling it a little differently…check out this video where they talk about trademarks and what they have decided to do when people and other companies use slogans that they made popular.
So, this is where it get’s sticky. I am all for showing Specialized as a big huge corporation with devil horns swallowing up small business’s while cackling maniacally…I mean, that must be what’s going on right? Well, yes…but all because they decided that they did not want to have their trademarks genericized. I mean, they should really own the words, Epic and Roubaix right, those words are never used for anything other than their brand names…right?
What do you think? Do you think it is right for Specialized to defend their trademarks or should they take a play out of the vlogbrothers book and share for the betterment of the sport and everyone involved?
On a related note….I have some Specialized tires that I want to get rid of…they work great…but seem a little slimy, anyone interested?