This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
A small bike shop in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada has recently been threatened with legal action by US bicycle manufacturer Specialized regarding a trademark violation concerning the shop’s name. The Calgary Herald reported today that Dan Richter, owner of the Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio, received a letter from lawyers representing Specialized demanding he change his business’s name because the bicycle company owns the trademark of the word “Roubaix”, a model of bicycle in the company’s line.
Richter, a military veteran medically released from service in 2012 after developing PTSD during deployment in Kandahar, Afghanistan, opened his shop on March 1, 2013 and asserts the shop’s name is an homage to Roubaix, France, the city which hosts the finish of the iconic Paris-Roubaix road race.
“I had assumed I could not register Roubaix as a trademark as it is a geographical location well known in cycling, not to mention the wide-spread use of the term Roubaix throughout the industry,” said Richter in a press release. “I thought I could freely use Roubaix. To be informed I cannot use the name is devastating. I invested my life savings, military severance pay, as well as all my Veteran’s Affairs award for my illness into Café Roubaix.”
Specialized claims this is matter of defending a legally owned trademark. Larry Koury, managing director of Specialized Canada Inc. told the Calgary Herald that, “A simple trademark search would have prevented this. We are required to defend or lose our trademark registration.” Koury cited Specialized’s registration of the word “Roubaix” in Canada’s federal government trademark database.
Richter has sought legal assistance in determining whether Roubaix can be registered in Canada. However, he estimates it will take upwards of $150,000 to contest the case in court, a price which may be prohibitive to the small business owner.
“I’m just at the point were we think this [business] might fly, so this was a huge hit for me personally,” said Richter.