Due to legal wrangling, UK bike company Sunday Bicycles is now known as Sabbath Bicycles.
“We haven’t changed management,” the company stated on its website. “Greg is still at the hot desk, Iain is still delivering the designs, Gareth remains in the workshop. Sunday Bicycles has not being taken over by a big suited and booted corporation. No venture capitalists have insisted we become Sabbath Bicycles. We are the same business, same company registration number, same VAT number and most importantly the same great products that we developed under the Sunday Bicycles name, only they now carry the Sabbath brand on the down and head tube.”
According to Sabbath, the company formerly known as Sunday Bicycles was pursued by an American corporation claiming trademark infringement and have persistently demanded rights of the UK company’s domain name.
“After almost two years of negotiation our American friends have steadfastly refused any form of compromise,” said company founder Greg Roche. “The details of the case are far from clear cut and there was a period where both companies were trading with Sunday as part of their name and where neither company had a registered trademark. For a significant period, the US company concerned didn’t even have a distributor in the UK. Amazingly, to us at least, this didn’t affect the legal position.
“Over the summer it became clear that court would be the only way to bottom out the issue,” Roche added. “We have been advised by our UK lawyers of a 60/40 percent likelihood of success at High Court, but the cost of taking the case there (in excess of £50,000) is totally prohibitive to us as a small UK business. Even winning would probably not see us recover all the costs. Losing would probably sink the business. From our perspective, it feels like Corporate America has won simply by being significantly wealthier than us…
According to Roche, he and the his management team had originally chosen Sunday Bicycles as a name because the Sunday ride, be it a race, audax, club run, time trial or blast with friends, is typically the focus point of the riders’ week.
“Hopefully, the Sabbath Bicycles name has that same connotation and the same association with the ‘weekly ritual’ of a bike ride,” he said. “Funnily enough, when we came up with the name to start with people were a little reticent about it. Perhaps we’ll have the same thing with Sabbath Bicycles for a time.
“Anyway, we decided that rather than spending thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours in a court we would move on and focus on what we do best; design and innovation of our own range of market leading titanium bicycles – only now under the Sabbath rather than Sunday Bicycles brand. Rather than dwell on the negatives, we have decided to see this as an opportunity to ‘future proof’ our brand through a re-birth as Sabbath Bicycles.”
According to Roche, Sabbath Bicycles has grown successfully in the two years since it’s inception in October 2006. Originally set up with nothing more than a £10,000 overdraft, second year UK sales stand at quarter of a million pounds. The business is now contemplating European and global marketplace opportunities, as well as planning to expand its current sixteen strong retailer network to 40 in the next 12 months.
Roche et al are striving to keep the transition issues to a minimum. They’ve posted a Question and Answer section on their website. For more information, visit www.sabbathbicycles.co.uk.