Specialized's attempt to defend the trademark "Roubaix" in Canada against a bike shop in Calgary has spiraled into a PR disaster, with the US giant coming under heavy criticism from a number of sides for flexing its legal muscle against a bike shop in Calgary.
Specialized threatened legal action against Dan Richter, the owner of the Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio, for using the name "Roubaix", which Specialized had trademarked in Canada. Mr Richter, a retired war veteran, has said that he can't afford the legal fees of upwards of $150,000 to defend himself against the big red S. But in a David vs Goliath meets David's big brother-style twist, he may be rescued by another industry heavyweight: Advanced Sports International, owners of the Fuji bicycle brand, which includes Roubaix models in its line.
According to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, "ASI says it owns the worldwide rights to the Roubaix trademark ... and has licensed it to Specialized since 2003." And the company's International CEO Pan Cunnane says he is happy for Dan Richter to use the name for his bicycle shop.
"We have reached out to Mr. Richter to inform him that he can continue to use the name, and we will need to license his use, which we imagine can be done easily," Cunnane was quoted by BRAIN as saying.
ASI is also telling Specialized to back off from this battle, as they don't believe Specialized has the authority to claim the Roubaix trademark in Canada.
Specialized has also been hammered on social media since the story broke, with thousands of people posting the original story on Specialized's Facebook page and taking aim at the company's twitter account.