Specialized counterfeit bikes

It has been quite the week for Specialized, Specialized Dealers, Cafe Roubaix, now Epix Gear, and more. Hoping to get things back on track, Mike Sinyard has posted another apology letter to the company’s facebook page hoping to explain the situation further, including the recent noise over the Epix Gear letter, and citing a huge influx of counterfeit goods as a contributing factor in Cafe Roubaix’s wheels being targeted by Specialized’ lawyers.

Check out Sinyard’s letter after the break.

I Screwed up, and I own it

I would like to apologize and let everyone know I realize I handled this situation wrong from the start and I’m very sorry for that. As many of you have probably already seen by now, I went up to Café Roubaix to meet with Dan in person to apologize and make good with him. Café Roubaix will continue on with its name. The video is up on Café Roubaix’s Facebook page. Dan is the real deal, after meeting him I realize this and am embarrassed by how ridiculous this is. What happened was wrong. There are no excuses but I do feel like I owe it to you all to explain how we found ourselves in this situation, the lessons we’ve learned from it and, most importantly, how it will change the way we do things moving forward.

Over the past few years we’ve seen a massive spike in counterfeit products, and most of the riders have no idea these products are fake, which is extremely dangerous because the risk of failure on these untested products is extremely high. In one instance, the entire head tube and fork sheared off a counterfeit Tarmac, causing the rider who had no idea he was not on a genuine Specialized product to faceplant and destroy his shoulder. To give you an idea of how much this issue has blown up, 10 Specialized employees hunt fake products across 30 major ecommerce platforms, we’ve identified over 5,000 listings, worth $11,000,000 USD in counterfeit goods since January 1st of this year alone. This is about double what it was last year. Due to this we have recently gone after IP and trademark issues more aggressively in the interest of protecting the safety of riders and the livelihood of our dealers and their hard-working employees. See the attached picture to understand how dangerous fake goods are.

In the deal with Café Roubaix, the wheels were the red flag that got the attention of our outside attorney’s who were already sort of on red alert for anything that pops up, although Café Roubaix wasn’t in the same camp as the counterfeiters, they still got caught in the crossfire. There is so much activity with infringers that it’s overwhelming and I don’t see them all. The first I heard of it was Saturday morning and by Monday the thing went huge. But still, that was my fault, which is why I’m so embarrassed. I should have called Dan immediately.

I heard you and you can rest assured I took it to heart. I realize now that we went too far with this aggressive approach and as a result and in some cases we hurt the local bikes shops and small businesses we wanted to protect. As a result we’re going to take a much closer look at all pending and future intellectual property and trademark issues, making sure to only pursue those that present a clear and obvious danger. The letter on Epix Gear was issued before the Café Roubaix story broke and has since been pulled.

I handled this very poorly and I own full responsibility. Dan at Café Roubaix and I have become friends and he’s happy with the solution. I hope you too accept my sincere apology. Like you all, I’m passionate about cycling and want to do everything possible to grow the activity we all love.

Sincerely,

-Mike Sinyard
Founder

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jeff
jeff
8 years ago

How far back are we going with the apologies here? Epic Designs? Volagi?
Sorry, it’s too little too late. Only when the public outcry on social media reached epic proportions did Specialize go into nicey-nice damage control mode.
Not buying it…or anything from Specialized.

fan boy
fan boy
8 years ago

does this mean that Eric at Revelate can change his name back to Epic designs now?

Epic 29 Guy
Epic 29 Guy
8 years ago

The solution is easy, for the premium paid on Specialized bikes, just bring the manufacturing home and you would have less of these embarrassing situations. Why? Because the Chinese firms that currently build them cannot steal your designs and counterfeit your bikes.

Case closed.

I will still buy your bikes though.

TJ
TJ
8 years ago

I rarely leave comments on forums – but in this case I’ll make an exception. I don’t own a Specialized but by the looks of things they do make great bikes. However, like many I thought it was ridiculous how Specialized’s lawyers were doing.

BUT – I have to tip my hat to Mr. Sinyard. In a day and age where nobody seemingly apologizes for anything – IMHO he has done the right thing here.

off-roadie
off-roadie
8 years ago

Maybe this will be a turning point for Specialized. It’s never too late to correct your path.

Eddie
8 years ago

Weird! You out source your tooling and designs to China and exact counterfeits pop up? Who woulda thunk!!

Chris
Chris
8 years ago

It’s fascicle the way Specialized has proceeded without any recognition that they don’t have the authority to have sent that letter in the first place, per their licensing agreement with ASI, and now Sinyard is taking credit for allowing Cafe Roubaix to continue with the name, like he had a choice in the matter.

Robo
Robo
8 years ago

haters gonna hate

Good on ya, Mike!!

A.
A.
8 years ago

http://www.Facebook.com/epixgear

Specialized just did it to another company.

Urb
Urb
8 years ago

This would make a great South Park episode! So totally wacky. You just can’t make this stuff up.

casey
casey
8 years ago

6 months ago or so I had one of the mclaren venge copies pictured above come into the shop I work at. The customer wanted us to build the frame up into a complete bike. I can attest first hand to the danger this sort of situation can pose to the bicyclists who fall victim to these counterfeit products. The quality of the frame and visual structural integrity of the frame was ghastly.

I was leery of the frame being fake from the get go as it didn’t have an obvious serial number on it anywhere. So I personally called specialized’s tech department and sent them a few pictures. Within the hour, I was speaking directly to the head of the counterfeit division at specialized and they had already found the seller shut down his website, and froze all of his accounts via the FBI.

Our outside rep was in the area came by to talk to the customer, and even offered the customer a deal on a real venge.

I honestly believe the customer would have been seriously hurt or killed ridding this frame, so I completely understand their standpoint on counterfeit products.

Casey B
Casey B
8 years ago

Working for a bike company I have seen how this past year has been. The cycling industry is down significantly and many companies in the industry have closed their doors. I wish Mike Sinyard and Specialized luck and prey that this does not hurt them as bad as the rumors say it will.

2MC
2MC
8 years ago

Its one thing to sue for direct IP counterfiet its another to sue for what looks-like-them, sounds-like-them, smells-like-them mentality.

The history of Specialized’s litigation cases still makes them look like dufus’s and bullies in the cycling world.

Selling all that is Specialized and never supporting again

Champs
Champs
8 years ago

Epic 29er, the ownership at Merida might have something to say about production overseas (relative to whom?)

And say what you like about Sinyard, the guy isn’t a bully. He just wants to know: WHY DO YOU KEEP HITTING YOURSELF?!

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
8 years ago

The likelihood of Specialized builders making counterfeits is VERY SMALL. They make too much money off of Specialized to loose them. As someone that has lots of experience making molds for various purposes…making a mold of something to make it appear exactly like something else is EXTREMELY SIMPLE. All you need to do is have an original and boom…you’re set. Realistically, they’d only need one size and with CNC software, a machinist would only need to adjust accordingly to the frame specs that Specialized(or any bike company) has on their own site for customers to look at.

On a side note, I work for a Specialized dealer and this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If there was no publicity, Specialized would have surely taken it all the way to court. I have my doubts that Synard didn’t know about this before the lawyers filed. This isn’t one of many manufacturers selling fake “Specialized” crap. Its someone in N. America with a bike shop that the felt they could leverage. Volagi mostly got screwed because the people that started the company came from Specialized. If they can from Trek or Giant but designed the same bike, they would have probably never been taken to court.

Ol' Shel'
Ol' Shel'
8 years ago

I worked for a mass brand producing cheap kids bikes. They had ‘branded’ parts named ‘Supertrax’, or something similar. Trek’s lawyers contacted us, threatening legal action because the name was easily confused with ‘Trek’. yes.

Their lawyers have to keep busy in order to justify their salaries.

This is nothing new, and counterfeit product has nothing to do with it.

votre mere
votre mere
8 years ago

how about a guide to spotting fakes if it’s so important for safety? I don’t need to read multiple paragrapghs of platitudes, the Roubaix shop owner’s word is enough. Are products registered through the process provided on their web site presumably authentic?
They go so far as to manufacture fake chicken eggs for human consumption. why wouldn’t they slap together some black plastic and sell it for a thousand dollars? people will fall for it.

L. Armstwrong
L. Armstwrong
8 years ago

When is the Oprah interview?

JOEP
JOEP
8 years ago

Say what you will, as someone has already posted, Mike came forward and owned it. Personally visiting with Dan at Cafe Roubaix – yeah he owned and and good on him for doing it. That takes ownership of the problem to the personal level, Specialized is still small enough in the world of business to know this was the best way to put out the fire.

Jejeh Moan
Jejeh Moan
8 years ago

Sincere apology or political maneuvering? I think the latter.

If he wants to apologize, I would expect him to apologize and reimburse Tom Ritchey first.

And the stuff said about “fake” products is wrong. I know too many people who ride these, none with any of the issues mentioned…and on bad roads at that! BUT..I don’t condone buying fake products for it is a form of stealing.

A.
A.
8 years ago

Bullsh1t. How many others were tken to court?

Call it what it is, Mike… you were protecting your logo. This isn’t about counterfitting. Nothing with ANY of the companies that you threatened could’ve been mistaken for anything that you make. The original explanation was that if you don’t protect your trademarks you lose them. I get it. Stick to that. Apologize for being a bully and move on. Stop trying to sell the bullsh!t counterfit story.

Ummm...
Ummm...
8 years ago

If it weren’t for the overwhelming bad publicity specialized and their dealer base was getting nothing would have changed. Specialized is a marketing company.
The PR spin campaign they are on now is merely to placate the masses.
Look at how they conduct themselves at the dealer level.
They are a bunch of capitalist bullies.

M
M
8 years ago

It’s sad to hear about all the counterfeiting of specialized bikes. Worse that the counterfeits are so badly made. I’ve had a counterfeit pinarello for about 3 years now and that bike has been wonderful, guess counterfeiters pay more attention to their bikes? I got my bike all checked out by a pina dealer in the area and he said it’s perfectly safe and a very nice bike, but it isn’t a pina, just a well made copy; in fact he had to check the serial to know it was fake. Slightly heavier than the actual frame, probably due to a different carbon being used, nothing like the lopsided tube shown above though.
Still, goes to show not always a safety issue.

chris
chris
8 years ago

Bring back the Stumptown. And reign in your terrible legal consultants already.

Surly Shawn
Surly Shawn
8 years ago

He owned up to it. Not too many other CEOs have ever remotely done the same. Whatever his reason or legitimacy, he went and met Dan in person and talked. That is a huge mea culpa.

He saved face in my book and I may continue my love affair with the big red S. Probably a little less, but it’s still on.

Lee
Lee
8 years ago

He’s only sorry that he was caught.

If it weren’t for the overwhelming bad press, Sinyard wouldn’t give a rat’s ass that they’re not doing the right thing.

The Conductor
The Conductor
8 years ago

This is all messy.

Props to Mike S for stepping up going in person, and explaining in the letter, I respect that.

But the counterfeit issue is not really the same as the Cafe Roubaix name trademark issue.

Like in the OJ trial, “if the glove don’t fit” had little to do with the actual evidence, other than distracting the jury from the real point.

Companies need lawyers, lawyers need to bill hours. I used to work at a major financial company. A 10 word paragraph would go back and forth from legal 30 times, each time changing a word, comma, etc. Sometimes the copy ended up back to it’s original state. Most of the time I felt edits were simply to justify their jobs. Endless cycle.

mythbuster
mythbuster
8 years ago

The apology is welcome. However there are a few problem with this:

1. The apology is late and it came after they were cornered by social media and outmaneuvered by ASI.
2. They were suing businesses long before the past 3-4 years when the counterfeiting became so prevalent. Thus protection of intellectual property did not bring about sue happy culture within Specialized, it is an extension of it.

Bill
Bill
8 years ago

Does no one else find the lack of control specialized has over their brand concerning? Millions of dollars in counterfeits (pinarello is the only other one who seems to have this issue) and apparently no idea what their legal department is doing…

Danno
Danno
8 years ago

Good call Chris – Specialized doesn’t “own” the name – they pay ASI/Fuji for use of it and had no right to come down on Dan in the first place. ASI/Fuji saved the day, not Specialized or Mike Sinyard. This is simply damage control after a massive customer backlash. I’ve been a Specialized customer since 1989, my first MTB, and ride an S-Works Tarmac now. But after this and Volagi (local to me) I’ll be shopping for another brand next time around.

Rico
Rico
8 years ago

There are many chinese knockoffs besides Spec and Pina, there are colnago, Time, focus, Cervelo… just search on ali baba.

Mindless
Mindless
8 years ago

Don’t buy Specialized and don’t listen to their FUD. Many better companies to support with your hard earned $$$. The end.

Mortimer
Mortimer
8 years ago

The counterfeit story makes things worse in my mind. Mike you should have just said you were wrong. Making excuses is not an apology – you’ve just transferred the blame. Boy am I glad that new bike I got was not a Specialized.

david
8 years ago

Hey guys this is b.s. to keep on attacking Mike Sinyard. He’s running a multi million $$ company and its hard to get everything right all the time. I don’t see this as damage control, I think that Mike did his research and listen to the voice of reason and then moved in the right direction.
Now, I may have a vested interest. I’m the proud owner of a hot paint job blue and yellow Cruz, and the bike just flat out rocks !! I also own a team Allez E-5 and that’s one of the best bang for the $$ frames that I’ve owned to date.
So just let Specialized get back to biz, and let them continue there efforts in making some great bikes, and provided unbelievable race team support !! Just remember there cross team has been on fire this year, and I think they have one of the top mtb female xc talents in the world with Lea Davison.
So lets give them credit for all the good they do in supporting there racers and I for one think they have the strongest product line in cycling !!
All the very best..David Motay

bin judgin
bin judgin
8 years ago

NERDS WEIGH IN!

Specialized takes care of the counterfeit dudes. I’ve seen it first hand.

FSR is still terrible for anything short of a DH bike, Tarmac is a yawnfest, PF30 is not as bad as BB90 but still is terrible, but their bikes look great.

Pynchonite
Pynchonite
8 years ago

So, this is probably a cynical ploy to placate potential customers and keep product moving. And this doesn’t give anyone back their time and money, like Volagi, Relevate, or for that matter Lemond, (yeah that was Trek – that’s the point). BUT if it does lead to an actual change in policy, we should all revel in the power of social media to make positive change. Buy other bikes if you want, just know that Specialized isn’t the only one doing this.

nick
nick
8 years ago

Why don’t you ask top mtb, female, xc talent, Lea Davison what she thought of the recent Specialized/Total Rush store in Melbourne’s, re-opening with semi nude, body painted women?

Bill
Bill
8 years ago

Mike
You blew it again! This was no genuine apology. Own up to being a bully. This counterfeit excuse doesn’t work with the people who’ve been paying attention to your actions the last twenty years. You’ve been ruthlessly attacking other brands for much longer than the 3-4 years your talking about in terms of counterfeiting. Don’t confuse the issue, we aren’t that dumb! You could do yourself we’ll be offering a true apology where you just say you messed up. That you allowed your business to take on a bully mentality for many years and you didn’t act like a true leader to steer the business in a more positive direction. As shown by Jack Daniels, there are upstanding ways to deal with people you feel are taking advantage of your trade rights. Your business gas went after brands using names that weren’t the same as yours and didn’t share a similar aesthetic (ie: Epix and Stumptown). When you received a cease and desist from Transition for using the exact same name you wouldn’t respond til Bicycle Retailer and Industry News came asking about it. I believe your response was, “they are obviously different types of bikes, I don’t see why we can’t peacefully co-exist”. You said this because you knew they couldn’t afford to fight you, but the shoe had been on the other foot you would’ve made them change the name. There’s no doubt about this, because you’ve done it for a lot less. So, it really is about bullying and reigning over smaller businesses that couldn’t fight back and to give an apology for any less is disingenuous!

Diggety
Diggety
8 years ago

You specialized lovers on here are a bunch of sheep.

OB
OB
8 years ago

Oddly Specialized, has had a long standing an in house legal department, presumably so he could have a close working relationship with them. Mike mentions outside additional legal staff in the apology. That seems like a lot of lawyers for him to manage.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

You spesh lovers on here are a bunch of sheep.

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

Leopards never change their spots … Specialized do not exist in my world anymore …

Alb
Alb
8 years ago

The counterfeiting bluff is a nice distraction but I expect won’t wash with the people that know what the company are really like. As CEO the buck has to stop with Mr Sinyard – hence why he’s making the apology – the same would happen in any other industry, doesn’t make it any more ‘special’. They were backed into a corner and had no other option than to publicly grovel to try to save what little face they have left. The fact he did so with with a piss-poor apology sighting counterfeit goods is almost laughable. We all know the team of lawyers are there to aggressively pursue and protect market share, snubbing out anything that could be tenuously linked as a competitor (usually smaller businesses as they give up easiest). All it needed was a plain and simple “we f***ed up” (perhaps better, “sh*t, we’ve been publicly busted”). At the end of the day it couldn’t have happened to a nicer company. Judge with your pennies people, it’s Karma-time for Special Ed.

Bazz
Bazz
8 years ago

Hang on, are Specialized now trying to say that they went after Cafe Roubaix because they thought he was selling counterfeit Specialized goods?

They are try to deflect from the fact that they tried to crush Cafe Roubaix because they used the word Roubaix for their shop name and wheels.

I wonder if Specialized’s spin doctors advise politicians as well?

adam sharp
adam sharp
8 years ago

Brought a new specialized camber29 …2013 model..had problems with both wheels buckling just riding through the park. ..had them repaired twice and gave up in the end ..specialized did nit want to know about it.shocking customer service ..thank god the guys at rutland bikes uk are not like them and rebuilt my wheels free of charge..ive always had specialized bikes but after this never again

Holden Flabcock
8 years ago

Too little too late. Spez can go do one. Will make it my life long mission to never buy anything with the tainted logo on it.

AC
AC
8 years ago

“Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching” (I don’t know who said this, it wasn’t me)

Specialized is sort of doing the right thing after being called out and having done the wrong thing multiple times. Not really praise worthy in my book, nor a company I want to support.

WSBC89
WSBC89
8 years ago

To be honest, which other company would have done this? This was great of Mike! I think all of this is pushed to hard by the social media, and all the hate is overstated.

I will still ride Specialized.

Typical Spesh
Typical Spesh
8 years ago

“Couldnt Sleep?” More like you couldn’t sleep knowing that there was 11 million not ending up in your pocket…

Sorry Mike, but your ploy at diverting attention to the real issues by claiming “counterfeit goods” is bogus.

This guy was building high quality wheels, that didn’t bear a single wordmark with the Specialized name.

I’d like to see you admit the real reason you pulled off of going after Cafe Roubaix, which is that you had ZERO ground to stand on with the Lawsuit anyway. Same reason why you dumped millions into trying to sink Volagi just because you were upset a couple of guys decided to start their own bike company with the same entrepreneurial spirit you had once.

Except you entrepreneurialism required taking a Richey frame to Taiwan to rip off and called it a StumpJumper to start your bike company… Bad seeds grow trees that bear rotten fruit…

mac
mac
8 years ago

Spin, a common word used in UK politics and by god Mike Sinyard knows how to use it. He and his team are currently in the process of showing us all that Specialized aren’t the bad guys here in fact, we should be feeling sorry for them. I mean lets be honest, they only stamp on the small guy for the betterment of humanity, what could be more right? I’m now just awaiting the obligatory baby kissing photos…