[CR]Campy Gum hoods yada yada yada

(Example: Framebuilding:Tubing)

From: <Ebbikes@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 3 May 2002 17:49:44 EDT
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR]Campy Gum hoods yada yada yada

Campy Gum Hood Fans: First of all, thanks for all the positive comments about my letter. I only have tried to "share the wealth" and make these products available to those that need them, since I am a list member and the maker is not (I did not make these, as Stephen Sheffield suggested). I was not looking to cash in on the trademark or make a pile of money. I have a couple dozen bikes with Campy on them myself and I know a lot of you do too. By the way, I won't sell any more of them, so no need to ask. My intent was to start a dialogue to make Campy aware that we need parts like this and if they choose not to make them, they should offer official permission to those that want to. Hopefully the dialogue will reach the right ears. Thanks for your efforts.

Here is the word from a trademark attorney on the list, Kevin MacKinnon. He sent this to the list but apparently it kept bouncing:

<The position Campy's taking under US trademark law is the correct one.  It may arguably not be correct from a public relations standpoint, but it's legally correct.

Under trademark law, if the owner of a mark does not actively police its mark and prohibit the unauthorized use of the mark, it risks losing its exclusive rights to that mark.  Once that happens, the owner is prohibited from preventing anyone else from using the mark.  That's why, today, anyone can use the names "escalator," "windbreaker," thermos," and "aspirin." They were all once protected trademarks that the owners did not police (as Campy is now doing), and were allowed to fall into general public use so that the marks became "generic" - that is, they became used to identify the product itself, rather than the source or manufacturer of that product (which is, after all, the essential function of a TM).  Stupid on the part of those TM owners, but it has been known to happen.

There are PR concerns as well, especially when dealing with a loyal fan base.  Harley Davidson has had the same problems for years with its fanatical fan base, but has chosen to take a largely tolerant approach to the problem, thereby preserving its customer base.

If Campy won't back off, don't fight them.  You can continue to make the hoods, just don't use the Campy logo.  If you're careful, you CAN use the Campy name in ads, etc., so long as you don't cause confusion as to source of the hoods and lead a reasonable consumer to conclude that the hoods are actually made by Campy.  Thus, you're allowed to state in advertising materials, etc., that "the hoods fit Campy products," "are suitable for replacement of Campy parts," etc.  In a fairly famous case involving an independent Volkswagen repair shop, the Ninth Circuit noted that:

"It is not disputed that [defendant] may specialize in the repair of Volkswagen vehicles.  He may also advertise to the effect that he does so, and in such advertising it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to avoid altogether the use of the word VOLKSWAGEN or its abbreviation VW. . .  Although he may advertise to the public that he repairs appellant's cars, [defendant] must not do so in a manner which is likely to suggest to his prospective customers that he is part of Volkswagen's organization of franchised dealers and repairmen."

Sorry for the long message, but I'm a TM lawyer and have sent more than my fair share of nasty cease and desist letters to genuine TM pirates.  TM owners sometimes need to learn to recognize the distinction between pirates and fans.>

(Bob again:) I think the salient point is in the last sentence. No one was trying to take over Campy's market, they just want to keep their dear old bikes looking like when they were made.

By the way, someone mentioned brake pads. I have the Kool Stop (Campy) replacement pads. They say KOOL STOP on them, not Campagnolo, but they are black and wear out anyway, so I don't really care about that. They work just fine though. Look better than those red ones you used to see. And they are way cheaper than Campy's ever used to be, at $15 per set of 4. And I do have the Euro Asia gum hoods without any logos. They work fine too and sell for $17/pr. Great for a bike on which you will wear them out.

Bob Freeman
Hoodless in Seattle