Sinyard takes responsibility and apologises to Café Roubaix owner

Specialized founder and owner Mike Sinyard has apologised in person to the owner of the Café Roubaix bike shop in Cochrane, Alberta after resolving a trademark violation concerning the shop's name.

Specialized withdrew its action against the war veteran after its provoked a PR disaster leading to Advanced Sports International, who own the Fuji bicycles brand, stepping in claiming it owns the worldwide copyright on Roubaix.

Following the criticism of pursuing the case, Sinyard sought to calm the storm. "I met with Dan (Richter), the owner, and things are resolved," he told Cyclingnews.

"I flew up there and I broke some bread with him. Things are now solved. I definitely feel sorry on how we acted, I guess I would say I feel ashamed of it. It's not what I like and I told him that, face to face. I think what's really important is the context and how this happened."

As to why Specialized felt it was appropriate to approach Richter over his use of Roubaix, Sinyard sought to clarify the manufactures actions weren't personally motivated.

"To explain just a little bit, we have a lot of trademarks all around the world and we have a law firm that watches them. One of the things in the last five years, and especially the last two years has been the number of fake products with Specialized on. It's astronomical. We have a number of people who just track down these fake products.

"That's not what happened here but the law firm saw it and saw there was a guy selling wheels with Roubaix on there. I didn't know about this until Saturday morning when I got back from a ride and I tried to find out about it. I didn't do anything until the Monday and by then the thing had gone large. Again on context one of the biggest problems, and Dan doesn't fit into this, is fake products," he said.

As Richter was not attempting to sell fake products but was being targeted for the name of his business, Sinyard explained the misguided action against the shop owner. "I still remember losing sleep about  this guy who submitted a lawsuit to us and his face was completely destroyed and teeth knocked out," he said.

"I felt sick about it and thought, how could our bike break? He sent the bike back and our engineers quickly realised it wasn't ours, but you could hardly tell. Ever since then I've been rabid to protect the riders and our dealers who are selling the product."

Sinyard said that the actions by Specialized had hurt the brand and changes would be made to how the company targets future trademark disputes. "So did this one get out of hand? Absolutely and there's no excuse. I own it, I'm responsible for it. I have a big responsibility, and I love cycling and want to do great things for the sport and was this one mismanaged, it was. I take responsibility but as soon as I called him on the phone I realised he was the real deal and we hit it off. I think he feels that it's been treated fairly and him and I relate," Sinyard explained.

"I just need to look at things more carefully but I would say we've become pretty aggressive with this sort of thing in the last few years. This counterfeit stuff is where the criminals have started to shift to from drugs because it's actually harder to track them and the consequences are less."

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.