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Massive Support for Alberta’s Café Roubaix – Did Specialized Overstep its Authority?

by John Symon

Cafe Roubaix top-banner copy.2December 10, 2013 (Cochrane, AB) – Dan Richter, owner of Café Roubaix a 900-square-foot bike shop in Cochrane near Calgary has been involved in a David-versus-Goliath legal battle with Specialized over the use of the name Roubaix. There has been a massive outpouring of support for Richter over the dispute which has created somewhat of a public relations dilemma for Specialized, but the latest news is that the two parties are talking again and a resolution could be forthcoming soon.

Richter, an Afghan war veteran, was informed by Specialized last week that he could not use the word “Roubaix” in the store name because it is under license. Richter told The Calgary Herald that he had invested his life savings into opening the small bike shop earlier in 2013 and was devastated by the news.

He understood that he was free to use the word “Roubaix,” which is the name of both a city in France and part of the name of one of cycling’s most epic bike races, the Paris-Roubaix. People have been offering funds to help pay the estimated $150,000 in legal fees to fight Specialized in court. Richter has been unable to keep up with demand for jerseys emblazoned with the store name.

According to a Bike Retailer report the trade name “Roubaix” is owned by Philadelphia-based Advanced Sports International (ASI) and licensed to Specialized. Apparently ASI, which markets a bike named “Roubaix” under its Fuji brand, never registered the name in Canada although Specialized did so in 2007 with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for use on “Bicycles, bicycle frames, and bicycle components, namely bicycle handlebars, bicycle front fork, and bicycle tires.”

There has been some speculation that Specialized may have overstepped its authority and it’s alleged that ASI has informed Richter that he can obtain a license to continue to utilize the Roubaix name which Richter has been using for both his bike shop and for a line of bicycle wheels he sells.

A statement was expected from Specialized on Dec. 9 but nothing has been released yet. Meanwhile Pedal contacted Stephanie Genuardi, Marketing Communications Manager at ASI, who confirmed that talks were ongoing all day between Richter and Specialized, suggesting that something definite would be coming soon.

Café Roubaix’s Facebook Page, which now registers over 12,000 “likes”, has the following statement which says the two sides are now talking again.

“We can announce that your voices have been heard. We are now back in discussions with the other party. We are aware of recent announcements by third parties within the industry.”

“We thank you for your continued support. Also note, we are working on getting a pre-order sorted out for our popular shop jersey. Made by Santini. On our online sales – YOU are amazing people. Needless to say, we will be sorting out orders for a while. Over the weekend, we have received over 3,500 emails, hundreds of phone calls and messages, how many #s and @s? Tweets? Do numbers go that high? Our little studio is just barely 900 sqft and cycling fans, cyclists, Velomintus, industry leaders & big shots, pro riders, and icons have all made their voice heard.”

Associated Facebook comments come from as far as New Zealand and Finland; they are overwhelmingly supportive of Richter.

Read more in the Calgary Herald here and here.





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