Specialized Backs Down: Epix Gear

Although Epix Gear hasn’t posted anything on their Facebook yet, Bike Rumor is now reporting that Specialized has backed down–that the letter to Epix was sent pre-Cafe Roubaix (or at least pre-Cafe Roubaix meltdown).  Mike Sinyard has posted a personal apology on the Specialized Facebook page, as follows below.  Note that he says the Epix Gear issue was started before Cafe Roubaix became an issue.

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

Specialized is doing the right thing, and Mike Sinyard is very admirably taking it on the chin and leading by example.  I’m not so sure that the “counterfeit” argument is entirely valid–that seems a bit like a Red Herring, or a way of deflecting the discussion.  That makes this seem, just a little bit, like a Lance Armstrong apology.  But that said, I look forward to the coming weeks and to seeing what Specialized does.
They cannot let it end here.  Specialized still needs to do something public, and big, to show that they are taking this issue seriously, and working to change their culture.  I wish them the best of luck in doing so…and until they do, I will take Mike Sinyard at his word that he is working to change things.  Put away the e-pitchforks, and put out those e-torches.  Let me be clear: I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Sinyard, for taking the very important, and very painful, first steps towards resolving this cultural issue at Specialized.  I’m back to being inspired by his successful story, and hoping for a new, more positive next chapter in it.
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2 thoughts on “Specialized Backs Down: Epix Gear

  1. Total class on the part of Sinyard, I think. I completely get how the counterfeit problem put him and the company in an aggressive head space that went too far. I admire that he has owned this and has taken the lesson to heart.

  2. It’s a hard one to apologize for. How does one make up for such a mess and recover from a s*hitstorm as big as this? Tough one no matter how I look at it. Still, I’d say he did well, but then he had one shot at it (fired way too late for sure), to start perhaps a long path to redemption. And he certainly had professional support to come up with this (it shows in the video how uncomfortable he is in this role).

    It’s gonna be hard for sure, this brought up and back many past Specialized sins, and it doesn’t help they were commited on the same subject and in the same way. I still wonder how many there were in which Specialized won and we never got to hear about…

    Finally, it’s gonna be costly too, for all the right reasons (loss of sales at some level, professional support for crisis management, marketing, internal changes, etc.) but also because he can’t drop the ball on the piracy fight. On that, he picked up the “perfect argument” as it’s true but also hard to counter or not agree with. But it doesn’t make it valid IMHO. It’d be better if he hadn’t mentioned that and just kept fighting.

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