Alize is too much like Allez, says Specialized

by Mark Alker 9

Back in December Specialized boss Mike Sinyard put out a statement acknowledging the buck stopped with him when it came to taking the rap over their legal attempt to force a name change on a Canadian bike shop. Cafe Roubaix ended up in the Specialized legal cross hairs for having the word ‘Roubaix’ in their name, which was a term trademarked by Specialized. Specialized backed down after a very public online bashing for their heavy handed approach to protecting their brand assets – a point fully acknowledged by Sinyard.

It seems history may be about to repeat itself just 5 months on as their legals force the name change of a bike model sold by Hong Kong based NeilPryde bikes.

The statement posted on the NeilPryde website reads…

“Effective immediately we are retiring our ALIZE bike name and replacing it with NAZARÉ. This is just a name change – your beloved bike will remain exactly the same.

This change comes at the behest of a well known bike company. According to their lawyers the ALIZE name was too close to one of their trademarked bike names and, as such, we need to stop using it.

We didn’t really see it the same way. Both the spelling and meaning are completely different. All our names come from winds (or other water sports references) which is in our heritage. ALIZE is a north-easterly wind found in central Africa and the Caribbean. Any similarity with the name in question, however questionable, was purely coincidental. We are proud of our bikes and our heritage and wouldn’t swap it for anyone’s.

In the end, after months of arguing with lawyers, we were forced to change the name to avoid a protracted and potentially costly legal battle. We prefer to focus on designing great bikes than communicating with lawyers. As such, all ALIZE bikes produced from this spring will carry the name NAZARÉ.

Nazaré is a town and a well known big wave surfing spot on the coast of Portugal. It’s fast, powerful and impressive – just like NAZARÉ.

We hope that you forgive us for this disruption.

So long ALIZE and allez, allez NAZARÉ!”

Unsurprisingly the Specialized Facebook page bore the brunt of a public backlash, quickly filling up with critical posts.

“Innovate or die – or is it litigate and die?”, posted Michael McGill.

Facebook user Travis Harmor posted, “Specialized’s next hire needs to be a linguist. Allez & Alize (both French words) do not mean the same thing, nor are they even remotely pronounced the same way. Such a disappointment to see you doing this again. I thought, Mr. Synard [sic], that you had learned your lesson (your words). This is fairly pathetic. Please stop acting like a conglomerate and start focusing more on making bicycles.”

Later on Monday evening a short statement was cut and pasted as a reply to every critical post on the Specialized Facebook page. It read..

“In July 2013 we reached out to NeilPryde Bikes to figure out a solution on a bike name that was similar to one of ours, Allez, in addition to their use of the trademarks “Epic” and “Innovate or Die”. We were able to agree on a solution in December. We want to thank the NeilPryde crew for working with us on this. We’d also like to congratulate them on their new name, ‘NAZARE’ and we wish them the best success in their efforts.
-Mike Sinyard
 “

References to two other trademarks, “Epic” and “Innovate or Die” suggests that there could be more to this issue than just the name of a single bike.

For a potted history of Specialized and legal actions in defence of claimed trademarks going back to 1990 see their Wikipedia page.

 

 

Comments (9)

  1. I expect everyone will jump on this as the big bullies being heavy handed with the small guy, after all Specialized have got form in this area. But, the key line for me is the last one about ‘Innovate or Die’ . Perhaps this is the real story, Neil Pryde got spanked for using a clearly trademarked slogan and are now concentrating on the Alize/Allez angle to turn this to their advantage through a bit of clever viral marketing?

    Just a thought…

  2. Yet another reason not to buy a Specialized, tossers

  3. I’m not a Big S defender but Neil Pryde used ‘Innovate or Die’ in their brochure. Now I’m no legal eagle but that would seem to invite trouble. A bit like a a food shop using ‘Every Little helps’.

  4. What other companies are allowed to “Innovate or Die” then since it is a standard phrase. Never really understood how you can trademark a common phrase. Can someone explain the benefit to the man on the street?

  5. Epic.
    How on earth can that be trademarked for all bike related applications?
    And wtf have frame bags for bike packers to do with an xc race bike?

  6. How did it become a common phrase? Who coined it? If S can convince us it was down to them then they can enforce it in a cycling context.
    Doesn’t make me want to buy from them, too many lawyers getting in the way of the core business for my taste.

  7. Did spesh start saying their phrase before camelbak urged us to “hydrate or die”?

  8. Lotus are quaking in their boots.

  9. I fjrst heard a ‘x or die’ slogan in 1992 when German trance label Harthouse created an ambient sublabel called ‘recycle or die.’ Do the spesh and camelbak terms predate that?

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