Sunday, December 8, 2013

Roubaix, Roubaix, Roubaix!

In this case, the Dude does NOT abide.
This weekend, to quote the Dude, "Certain things have come to light." It seems that in Canada there is a bike shop called Cafe Roubaix. It appears that the Cafe Roubaix is a small shop located above an ice cream shop in a little town called Cochrane, Alberta, population 17,580.  This little shop has garnered the attention of one of the biggest bike brands in the world, Specialized Bicycles.

Now, little Cafe Roubaix has not caught the attention of this bike industry behemoth by selling more Specialized bikes than anyone. No, as a matter of fact Cafe Roubaix doesn't even sell Specialized bikes. So, why the hell did this little shop get the attention of the big red "S"? Well, it seems that Cafe Roubaix had the audacity to use the name "Roubaix" in their name.  Roubaix.  A name associated with one of the most grueling road bike races in the world, the Paris-Roubaix, held around Easter weekend since 1896 (117 years for those not mathematically inclined).  A name revered by cyclists the world over because of said race.  A name apparently trademarked by Specialized when they introduced their road bikes of the same name, which I guess is where the problem lies.
I'm guessing this shot was taken sometime before the
1974 creation of Specialized.

But is that where the problem lies?  I guess Specialized trademarked the name but does the town of Roubaix, France, established somewhere in the 9th century, which seems to be before the jackasses at the big red "S" laid claim to the name, sue Specialized for sullying the good name of their fair city by attaching it to their line of mediocre plastic bikes?  Nope.  Or, let's even move locally and look at the little Roubaix Lake here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which has been around since before me, which is before the 1974 creation of Specialized, which I'm assuming was before their trademark of the name Roubaix.

This kinda reminds me of when Cannondale trademarked the term "freeride" when that was a thing.  They sent cease and desist letters to Rocky Mountain (bikes) which forced them to make the satircal "Froriders".  How did that work out for C'Dale?  Does anyone even ride their bikes anymore, or does anyone use the term "freeride" anymore?
The Froriders laughing at the trademarked term Freerider.
Or, lets just get all the bike companies to sue anyone that uses one of their trademarked names.  Like Kona.  They should sue Hawaii, or any of those companies that sell Kona coffee, or even better since it is quasi-bike related they should sue the Kona Ironman.  How about Salsa?  They could sue Spearfish, SD for the use of that name. Even better, they could just sue anyone that uses the word Salsa!  Force everyone to start calling it Mexican Ketchup.  Hey Specialized, here are a few more for you.  How about every time Phil Liggit says "Ooh, he just hit the tarmac" you get him to pay you a royalty?  He says that about 100 times in the first week of the Tour de France alone.  How about anyone that puts on an Enduro race?  Sue the hell out of them too!  Maybe move to the prison system and give those guys cease and desist letters every time the carve a shiv out of a chicken bone to shank someone in the shower.  They'll have to come up with a different name than Shiv since you own that too.  Kinda ridiculous, no?

So Specialized, I understand protecting your brand but c'mon,  pressuring the people at Cafe Roubaix to change their name is a dick move. We get it, you're a big bully and nothing is going to stop you from world domination.  But just remember, while you may win this battle, you won't win the war.  Just ask Cannondale how that whole trademark thing worked out for them.


  1. Rest assured, Tarmac plc, a division of Angle-American the mining giants, has been alerted to the potential for confusion with Specialized's infringing bike.

  2. I grew up in that town, I live in a completely different country now and follow your blog. Interesting that a cafe exists in Cochrane that doesn't belong to a chain of donut shops, let alone one that is getting sued by specialized! There are probably like 5 people in that town that know what specialized even is. Thanks for the interesting read.