Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bike Delaware demands Delaware Bikes forfeit domain, cites unfair competition

We were recently contacted by Bike Delaware with the following allegation. Here is an excerpt from their attorney's letter:

It has come to Bike Delaware's attention that you have recently begun using the name "Delaware Bikes" to promote your views regarding cycling in Delaware, including without limitation, on the website www.delawarebikes.org. Our client is concerned by the use of "Delaware Bikes" because this phrase includes both terms of its "Bike Delaware" mark, simply inverted. Generally, merely inverting the words in a mark does not distinguish the marks, especially in view of the similar meanings and connotations of the respective marks. The significant similarities between the marks - particularly where the services are identical/overlapping and are directed to the same consumers and through the same trade channels - is likely to confuse consumers. In fact, the League of American Bicyclists has expressed its confusion between the names and Bike Delaware is concerned other people or groups encountering the Delaware Bikes name will associate your activities with Bike Delaware or are likely to believe, in error, that you are affiliated with, or sponsored by, Bike Delaware.

? Is it Bike Delaware or Delaware Bikes ?
To which Angela Connolly, Secretary at Delaware Bikes, responds:

The League of American Bicyclists did not express their confusion, to we at Delaware Bikes or anyone else, as you may have been told. Andy Clark, the President of the LAB merely gave his very narrow opinion on the existence of Delaware Bikes and our mission when asked by us for his support. In an e-mail to representatives of Delaware Bikes, he stated that  "there is no need for a new "voice" that's honestly barely discernible in name and content from the existing voice". That is his personal opinion, and in no way should be construed to reflect what the LAB as an organization thinks. As a matter of fact, Delaware Bikes has made our purpose very clear, at every opportunity - to provide a more balanced approach to Bicycle Advocacy, and to include the concerns of those who cycle on Delaware's roads. This differs from Bike Delaware, whose main focus is on securing funds for future segregated bicycle facilities, such as trails and pathways. This is not merely an allegation; one only has to look at the two websites to draw their own conclusions as to the differences in our missions. On our Blog and Facebook page, which is the way we primarily communicate with our followers, we clearly and at every turn distinguish ourselves from Bike Delaware. And as far as consumers and trade channels, that is irrelevant. We are not targeting consumers nor are we soliciting money or donations. We are a non-profit Advisory Committee and Blog, we do not even solicit memberships. We pay for promotional items out of our own funds.

Poster's note: So, what's in a name? It should be noted that Bike Delaware didn't even formally register their domain name until February of this year. So, does Bike Delaware have a case? Stay tuned! For starters, Andy Clark (President, LAB) is incorrect that our services "are identical or overlap". Nothing could be farther from the truth. Bike Delaware focuses almost entirely on trails and pathway funding, while Delaware Bikes covers LAB's own 5 Es of bicycle advocacy. On-road safety is paramount - it is all but impossible to bike for transportation in Delaware (or just about anywhere in the US) without using roads and arterial highways at some point in your journey. And that's not set to change for generations to come, if ever.

3 comments:

  1. This is not a healthy situation for bicycling in Delaware, divided we fall. In my opinion both groups are missing the mark. If dueling groups are the outcome then there is a need to stop the fueding and find areas of agreement.
    I would like to see a "bike/walk" Delaware organization that appeals to and partners with a broader audience.
    The mission of this hypothetical group should be the implementation of complete streets to reduce injuries and deaths and encouraging more people to walk and bike. Nested within this overeaching goal should be the creation of a statewide barrier free, on road, off-road bikeway/walkway network.




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    1. Absolutely. Network is the key here, in so many ways. We need to make as good use as possible of the resources we have and find practical solutions to barriers. While the First State Trails and Pathways Plan is wonderful in itself, a trails only approach gained undue momentum in Delaware, over-riding many positive on-road efforts. When it comes to public policy, the pendulum tends to swing wildly before becoming centered. Here the focus became narrow instead of inclusive. This in turn caused a splintering of groups as Bike DE put an effort into ensuring that the focus was almost exclusively on high profile trails and a hypothetical group of people who might bike for transportation if they were totally separated from traffic, while other groups, including Delaware Bikes, took a more pragmatic approach to addressing the needs of cyclists who are riding today and those who need to use the roads or choose to use the roads. Of course, the needs of all "types" of cyclists should be addressed, both current and prospective. While the Delaware Bicycle Council is required to represent the needs of all cyclists and we do attempt to do just that, it would certainly be wonderful and in the long run really is necessary to see a unified grassroots organization that hears what those who are "walking the walk" are saying and represents the needs and rights of all cyclists and pedestrians, whether for recreation or transportation, trails or roads or a combination, old, young, fearful, comfortable, you name it.

      I'm sure that no one set out to become divided. Sad that it happened. The divide is based on a long and painful history that involves a large number of people from a large number of organizations, far beyond the few bikes-only focused "dueling groups" that are readily apparent. Not sure how we get from where we are today to the hypothetical group that you describe above. But perhaps it can happen. It will only happen, however, if all groups are willing to communicate and accept a big tent of ideas and projects that include not only the range of infrastructure, but land use, education, encouragement and the enforcement of laws.

      I hope that I'm not only speaking for myself when I say that practical suggestions are welcome. Some of us are getting awfully tired. Please wish Delaware well.

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  2. Interesting. It is sad that their has become such a divide in Delaware regarding advocacy approaches but I due sympathize with the more pragmatic approach of Delaware Bikes. Just call yourself Delaware Bikes and WALKS. Broaden your advocacy and get them off your tail.

    However, we who write WalkBikeJersey Blog never asked the Voorhees Transportation Center (funded by NJDOT) to change the name of their blog call New Jersey Walks and Bikes even though many get confused between the two. Just saying.

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