Eric Fingerhut (his name is Yiddish for 'thimble') has formed ICLA - the International Cycling Law Association - to educate global cycling companies about the myriad of laws and legal issues affecting their businesses.
"All cycling companies, regardless of size, need to understand and take advantage of the laws and regulations that impact their business operations, marketing and sales," said Fingerhut.
"Some of the legal issues cycling companies routinely face involve intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks and counterfeit goods; products liability, including consumer products safety recalls; false adverting; distribution deals, liability waivers and general corporate issues."
Fingerhut outlined his plans for ICLA to BikeBiz at Interbike's 'tweet-up': he's keen to use social media to further his cause. He tweets as BicycleLaw.
Last March, Hayes and its Taiwanese supplier, Muchachos International, settled their long-standing trademark dispute. Hayes’ trouble began when Muchachos registered the Hayes trademark in Taiwan and, after their relationship soured, forced Hayes to change the name of its own product line.
"We can all appreciate Hayes' outrage at losing its brand in Taiwan, especially after spending so much time and money building it in the US," said Fingerhut.
"But had Hayes taken the relatively inexpensive step of registering its trademark in Taiwan and executing a license with its supplier, the nightmare would have been avoided. Perhaps Hayes didn’t know how to protect itself overseas or, due to a lack of resources, decided to take a 'calculated' risk? This scenario is all too common, and highlights the need for the cycling industry to be well informed about its legal rights and responsibilities."
Fingerhut said the goal of ICLA is to provide "affordable legal education, pro bono legal assistance referrals, and targeted community outreach and advocacy.
The pro bono referral program is for qualified start-up cycling companies and non-profit organisations focused on relevant cycling issues.
Fingerhut is a road, mountain and commuting cyclist. He's a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Howrey LLP.
“We see our mission to help all stakeholders in the bicycle industry better understand the importance of legal compliance, to fill various legal information gaps that currently exist, and to bring together companies and legal counsel who share a passion for cycling. We are well-positioned as lawyers and cycling enthusiasts to do just that,” said Fingerhut.
“As more money is invested in cycling, there will be more rules and regulations governing the industry. For example, whether an electronic bike is legally classified as a bicycle or light electric vehicle, a debate taking place in Europe right now, will significantly affect how these products are sold in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere.
“Cycling companies should know how to protect their intellectual property and appreciate the risks of failing to do so. ICLA is assembling a formidable pool of talent from the international legal and cycling worlds to fill this need for legal education."