Specialized Sues Commune in France Over Trademark Dispute

ARTISANAL PRESS — A U.S. corporation, Specialized Bicycle Components, is suing the Roubaix commune of France over a trademark dispute. Specialized alleges that the Roubaix commune’s use of the word “Roubaix” infringes on the intellectual property of Specialized’s popular line of Roubaix road bicycles. This marks the latest in a recent spate of lawsuits, as the U.S. corporation protects its totally valid claim to owning all use of the name of a part of French geography.

Recently, Specialized won its legal battle against a bicycle shop in Canada that had called itself “Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio.” The tiny shop is run by a war veteran, who operates above an ice cream parlor in Cochrane.

Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald
Surely, we can agree that a U.S. corporation has a greater claim to ownership of French history than any Canadian.

Intellectual Property attorneys working for Specialized were able to win the case against the bike shop via a legal maneuver known as “spending your opponent into a hole.” As if inspired by Sun Tzu, they did not even have to fight a single battle in court — the mere threat of costing their opponent hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal fees, even for a case as solid as Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio’s, was sufficient.

Leaked court dockets show that Specialized next plans to file suit against the Paris–Roubaix professional bike race. Specialized’s attorneys argue that the use of the name Roubaix in a manner that suggests endorsement of the city of Paris, on top of use of the name in a clearly bicycle-related way, serves to dilute the U.S. corporation’s brandable trademark integrity and unique retail marketability. That means big dollars.

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“Let’s see, Portland Intelligencer… here you go! You got a letter from Specialized Bicycle Components.”

The Roubaix line of bicycles that Specialized manufactures are built for luxury, fetching prices in the neighborhood of $10,000 — a price that is quite reasonable, when you consider how expensive trademark attorneys are.


UPDATE 2013-12-09: ‘CAFE ROUBAIX BICYCLE STUDIO’ CAN KEEP NAME AFTER ALL

As it turns out, Specialized Bicycle Components doesn’t even own the Roubaix trademark. A company called Advanced Sports International does. And they don’t care if a small independent bike shop in Canada calls itself ‘Cafe Roubaix.’

Needless to say, Advanced Sports International is not amused.

Bicycle industry analysts believe that ASI will allow the Roubaix commune, as well as the Paris-Roubaix race, to similarly keep their names.