Must Read: Specialized muscles vet over shop’s name

The U.S. bike company threatens to sue a Canadian veteran over his shop's name, Cafe Roubaix, saying "Roubaix" is a trademark

Veteran forced to change bike shop’s name after threat from Specialized — Calgary Herald

A Canadian veteran of the Afghanistan war who operates a tiny bicycle shop in Cochrane is being forced to change his store’s name after being threatened with a lawsuit by one of the giants of the U.S. bike industry.

Dan Richter, owner of Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio, located above the famous Mackay’s Ice Cream in Cochrane, says he received a letter from the lawyers of big bicycle maker Specialized several months ago, demanding he change the store’s name because the company owns the trademark on the word Roubaix, which they use to market a brand of road bike.

Richter, however, says he didn’t name his store after the company’s bike, rather after a region in France that hosts one of the most famous bike races in the world, the gruelling 117-year-old Paris-Roubaix. Because the name is an icon of bike culture, and graces hundreds of other products from bike tires to a brand of cycling tights sold by MEC (and even other road bikes), Richter says he has a good case to keep the store name, but is capitulating because he can’t afford a legal fight in court.

“It’s been frustrating,” Richter told me. “The response throughout this process (from Specialized) has been arrogant and almost unbelievably dismissive.

“We didn’t want to go public . . . but they’ve made it clear on no uncertain terms, they are going to sue.”

Larry Koury, managing director of Specialized Canada Inc., said the company is simply defending its legally owned trademark.

“A simple trademark search would have prevented this,” Koury wrote in an email, along with a reference to the federal government’s trademark database showing Specialized’s registration of the word Roubaix. “We are required to defend or lose our trademark registration.”