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Specialized said name too similar to Allez; founder Mike Sinyard had said it would soften approach after Café Roubaix row

Hong Kong-based watersports to bicycles brand NeilPryde says it is retiring the name of its Alizé bike and replacing it with Nazaré with immediate effect due to a copyright dispute with "a well known bike company" - confirmed to road.cc as Specialized.

NeilPryde had announced the news that it was changing the model's name on its website, under the headline Allez, allez Nazaré, leading many to assume that Specialized is the other party. 

That was indeed the case, as Mike Pryde, the company's bike division manager, told us. He said: "Specialized's legal representatives in various jurisdictions where they have trademarked 'Allez' wrote to us asking us to stop using the Alizé name as it was in their opinion 'confusingly similar'."

He went on: "NeilPryde never intended to use the name Alizé in order to confuse consumers. In fact, our customers are all well educated and are in our opinion, able to tell the difference between an aluminium bike sold and marketed by Specialized and that of a cutting edge BMW designed carbon fibre bike by NeilPryde under the name Alizé.

"Especially since both Specialized and NeilPryde marks are clearly visible on the product and that Allez and Alizé have completely different meanings. "

road.cc reviewd the Neil Pryde Alize back in 2011 and the Specialized Allez Comp in 2012. Apart from the fact tht one is a carbon bike and the other aluminium the other, and related, major difference between the Alize and the Allez is their respective price tags. When we reviewed the Alize it cost £4099 while the Allez range currently starts at £600 and tops out at £1300. Last year Specialized produced a worldwide 200 limited edition run of the S-Works Allez selling for £6,500 in aluminium.

Specialized's base model Allez in it's various builds is Specialized's its biggest selling road bike, and the California-based brand has threatened legal action in the past against other businesses in the industry to protect what it sees as its trademark - including last year, the Alberta, Canada bike shop, Café Roubaix.

Less than four months ago, Specialized backed down in its dispute with Café Roubaix, with the brand's founder Mike Sinyard personally apologising to the store's owner, Dan Richter.

“I just want to say a big apology for this whole thing,” Sinyard told him in a video filmed during his visit to the shop in December.  

“It got out of line and I completely take full responsibility for it. And most importantly, withdraw any claim and you can proceed as you like.”

In an open letter published shortly afterwards, Sinyard said that the company had been aggressively pursuing counterfeiters although he acknowledged that Café Roubaix, which has its own branded line of wheels, wasn't one.

He also confirmed that a separate action against clothing firm Epix Gear had been brought to an end.

"I realise 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," he said.

He also promised: "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.”

Referring to its complaint over the use of the Alizé name, Pryde told us: "This happened during the Cafe Roubaix affair. The founder of Neil Pryde Limited, Mr. Neil Pryde who knows Mike Sinyard reached out to him via email in order to find an amicable solution, but we never received a response."

He added: "NeilPryde are fully focused on developing awesome products and we did not want this to become a distraction. Therefore to avoid a protracted and costly legal battle, we decided to change the name to Nazaré."

A number of Facebook users who correctly assumed that Specialized was the other company involved posted messages over the weekend on its page on the social network to protest.

One, Nick Pelckmans, said: "Maybe you can contact the French government and ask them to change the conjugation of the verb aller as it seems allez is 'owned' by you. Never again a specialized for me!"

One distinguishing factor in the Café Roubaix case is perhaps that Fuji owner ASI, which licences the Roubaix name to Specialized in the US, said that the brand had no right to register the trademark in Canada - since Fuji had already done so itself - and therefore no power to threaten legal action.

In its message on its website, NeilPryde said:

On its website, NeilPryde said:

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!

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

59 comments

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arfa [802 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh dear, you would have thought they might have learnt from the cafe Roubaix episode but it would appear not.
If there legal department hasn't worked out the difference between the French for "go" and the name of a wind there's not much hope. Whatever next, injuncting all spectators from shouting "allez allez" at the side of the road so as to avoid brand confusion?

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morethansonglyrics [61 posts] 2 years ago
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Fool me once…
Hit them where it hurts.

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Gkam84 [9092 posts] 2 years ago
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arfa wrote:

Oh dear, you would have thought they might have learnt from the cafe Roubaix episode but it would appear not.
If there legal department hasn't worked out the difference between the French for "go" and the name of a wind there's not much hope. Whatever next, injuncting all spectators from shouting "allez allez" at the side of the road so as to avoid brand confusion?

I thought the French for go was "aller" and "allez" meant Come on or Go on (ahead)

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Flying Scot [921 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil Pryde might have consulted me first, as we have a Peugeot Alize ladies road bike in the shed from...1992.

Peugeot should nail specialized just for the hell of it.

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Goldfever4 [225 posts] 2 years ago
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Can't have any doubt about which tossers have been tea-bagging another cycling company for no real reason, the title of the blog post on the NeilPryde website should be enough to convince anyone.

It beggars belief that Specialized's lawyers were doing this at the same time that Mike Sinyard was going around claiming humility and grace with personal apologies et cetera.

Not buying that crap if it happens this time, and certainly not buying Specialized any time soon either.

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arfa [802 posts] 2 years ago
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Wot Simon says ! If only I could remember my grammar....

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arfa [802 posts] 2 years ago
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Wot Simon says ! If only I could remember my grammar....

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Simon_MacMichael [2466 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

I thought the French for go was "aller" and "allez" meant Come on or Go on (ahead)

"Aller" is the infinitive "to go," "allez" the present indicative second person plural ("you go") or, in the context you'll hear it on the roadside at the Tour, the second person plural imperative ("go!").

 26

(Edit: found the avi)

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Gkam84 [9092 posts] 2 years ago
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Cheers Simon, I don't do French. I am a student of Zee German

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jollygoodvelo [1537 posts] 2 years ago
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Maybe the 'Special' legal team thought that 'Allez' and 'Alize' are pronounced similarly?

When actually it's Ah-lay versus ah-leez.

I find all this very odd however, given that 'Tarmac' is a trademark. And not a trademark owned by a Special company either.

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arfa [802 posts] 2 years ago
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On the subject of grammar, I meant to write "their" not there.
repeat and rewrite until bed time....

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levermonkey [680 posts] 2 years ago
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Allez Allez - Belgian funk band 1981 to 1985
Blind Allez - Glaswegian rock band 1983 to 1997, reformed 2006 and still going I think.
Numerous songs with Allez in the title and a French horse race.

Are Specialized going to sue everyone for using a French infinitive?  24

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jasecd [417 posts] 2 years ago
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Gave them the benefit of the doubt after the bike shop incident but this just paints them as bullies. All I know is my next bike will not be a Specialized.

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CliveDS [48 posts] 2 years ago
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There has never been much to like about Specialized bikes and now there is another reason to dislike them.

Neilpryde on the other hand have a fantastic product and the company is not run by lawyers it's run by riders.

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Vin Cox [50 posts] 2 years ago
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I have never owned one of their bikes, but had been buying shoes, helmets, gloves, saddles, bar-tape, etc. Never, never ever again! Second chance used up. Goodbye.

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jmaccelari [249 posts] 2 years ago
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After the Roubaix incident I decided never to buy any SSpecialized products again. Thankfully they have now shown that decision to be rational.

I also found myself rooting for anyone but Omega Pharma Quickstep at the RVV yesterday. Great team, but it's a shame they are stuck with a cruddy sponsor like SSpecialized...  2

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Argos74 [415 posts] 2 years ago
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Mulling over next Sunday bike. Makes my buying decision a little easier, narrows the field by two with Tricross and Roubaix off the shortlist.

Still plenty of bikes to cross off though. Hmm. Back to teh drawing board.

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therevokid [971 posts] 2 years ago
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they sound more and more like Crapple every day ... sigh

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Nick T [970 posts] 2 years ago
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levermonkey wrote:

Allez Allez - Belgian funk band 1981 to 1985
Blind Allez - Glaswegian rock band 1983 to 1997, reformed 2006 and still going I think.
Numerous songs with Allez in the title and a French horse race.

Are Specialized going to sue everyone for using a French infinitive?  24

That might be a stretch even for the Specialized lawyers, considering none of those things are bicycles.

I'm surprised Alex rims haven't been done yet though, or the Hutchinson Sector tyre.

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The _Kaner [935 posts] 2 years ago
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FUDS!  45

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don simon [790 posts] 2 years ago
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If this is Specialzed's new anti-sales campaign, it's working.
I, for one, have been given an even stronger reason to not buy any Specialized products.

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banjokat [20 posts] 2 years ago
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don simon wrote:

If this is Specialized's new anti-sales campaign, it's working.
I, for one, have been given an even stronger reason to not buy any Specialized products.

+1
Do they think we might be tricked into buying the wrong bike? I'm cleverer than that. Clever enough to never buy a Specialised (see what I did there?) product again.

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md6 [181 posts] 2 years ago
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Sigh. I intended not to buy spesh stuff after the cafe Roubaix thing, this just makes it my new years resolution. So, I will spend my meagre bike allowance for kit, tubes etc on anything except their products. People aren't quite as stupid as they seem to make out, it is simply bullying and does their pr no favours.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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I wonder what "dudes, I was just out biking the whole live long weekend, being rad, like you guys and didn't know this was even happening" pile of crap Sinyard is going to try and pull this time.

Scumbags.

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SamShaw [266 posts] 2 years ago
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Unfortunately not everyone who will buy a bike is so engaged with cycling that they follow reports like this and that of the Café Roubaix debacle.

There'll still be a lot of people going down their local bike shops buying Spesh products completely unaware that they're a bunch of paranoid money-grabbers.  22

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notfastenough [3715 posts] 2 years ago
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Dear me. I could give them the benefit of the doubt on the Cafe Roubaix affair, especially given how Fuji then made them look monumentally stupid ("Er, it's not even your trademark. Dude."), but this uses up their second chance.

So, I had heard that the Tarmac is a great bike, but it won't be my next great bike.

I tried on the S-Works Prevail and it fitted me really really well. Tough, I'll find something else.

Conti inner tubes are as widely available as Spesh inner tubes (both of which appear to be omnipresent in my LBSs), so I can avoid that.

I had meant to try their different saddle widths. Never mind, my Fizik Aliante is a great saddle.

My only remaining reliance on them is for the Body Geometry shoes, and thats only because they patented the use of a built-in varus sole tilt. (how can that be patented?!) I use so much varus tilt (4.5mm) that I need the built-in bit in order to try and minimise the additional tilt that I obtain via sole and cleat wedges. Unless anyone has any better ideas?

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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So - big bike company tells smaller bike company that the product names are a bit too similar. Smaller bike company changes product name. End of story.

This isn't Cafe Roubaix round two - it's not vast evil corporate machine vs little guy on his own is it?

I'd hope all those loudly declaring that they'll never (never I say, NEVER!) buy Specialised EVER AGAIN apply such ethical purchasing policies when it comes to food, meat, clothing, banking and everything else they buy and services they use.

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Simon_MacMichael [2466 posts] 2 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

So - big bike company tells smaller bike company that the product names are a bit too similar. Smaller bike company changes product name. End of story.

Did you miss this bit? (quoting Mike Pryde here)

"This happened during the Cafe Roubaix affair. The founder of Neil Pryde Limited, Mr. Neil Pryde who knows Mike Sinyard reached out to him via email in order to find an amicable solution, but we never received a response... we did not want this to become a distraction. Therefore to avoid a protracted and costly legal battle, we decided to change the name to Nazaré."

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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Will they be suing Mrs Doyle for her catchprase next?

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notfastenough [3715 posts] 2 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

So - big bike company tells smaller bike company that the product names are a bit too similar. Smaller bike company changes product name. End of story.

This isn't Cafe Roubaix round two - it's not vast evil corporate machine vs little guy on his own is it?

I'd hope all those loudly declaring that they'll never (never I say, NEVER!) buy Specialised EVER AGAIN apply such ethical purchasing policies when it comes to food, meat, clothing, banking and everything else they buy and services they use.

What it is, is corporate lawyers thinking customers are effing dim enough to confuse an entry level alu bike with a serious pro-level aero design.

And yes, I do try to buy according to my principles. So what?

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