Cycling in Melbourne Australia
N.B. The above image can be considered Fair Dealing.
So a few months ago I rolled out a new design and logo for this site, and a few people commented on the chain links and their similarity to a certain other organisation. It was noted, humorously, that the "open" links of the chain here was a good contrast to the "closed" structure of the other organisation.
The similarity was accidental, I'd had the design sitting there for many months before I got to implement it here, and the process had kicked off some months before that.
"Bicycle Network is a charity that promotes the health of the community. We work with our supporters to get “More People Cycling More Often” and measurably grow the bike riding world"
So, a charity.
A charity sent me a legal letter a few weeks ago threatening me for infringing on their trademark. I hear through the grapevine they sent out a few letters that day.
A charity, spending their member's money on threatening other with essentially the same goal.
A charity promoting the health of the community that can't even be bothered emailing or writing to say "hey, like your new logo but think it's a bit close to ours, is there anything we could maybe do about it ?". Nope, straight to the lawyers.
I'm pretty upset about it. I find it frustrating that sites like this are here as a resource for people to meet, discuss, promote and generally do good, and along comes a charity that is meant to be on the same side and they go straight to the legal option. It's not like I'm making any money out of the whole deal, I run this site as a loss, my way of "being the change I want to see".
I had a talk to a few people in the know and general consensus is that the folks in charge at BN just "don't care" they don't see people as "on the same side" and really don't have any agenda other than their own.
So after getting some more advice I decided that while I could probably fight and win this one, I really didn't have the emotional energy to do it. Not to mention the spare cash to throw at lawyers of my own.
So on this one, I give up. Chain links gone.
Personally I'm pretty disappointed, I'd heard the stories about how much BN didn't like playing with others, now I've seen it firsthand.
If you'd like to tell Bicycle Network what you think, go right ahead. If you're a member and want to know what they are doing with your membership fees. That's probably a valid question too. I suspect I'm too small to make a dent for them, but if everyone let them know and shared this with your social networks maybe they will get the message.
Thanks for reading! I'm off to ride my bike.
Update : 15 Oct
To address a few of BN's responses to enquiries made to them.
1. My surname is spelled Maclennan, not Maclellan. I mean, if you're going to get all pedantic, at least get the details correct!
2. I've never said BN started legal proceedings, I said they threatened legal proceedings, via their lawyer. There's a difference and I want to be clear about it.
3. Yes people pointed out similarities between the logos, this was after I launched the new look of the site. Not before.
4. This wasn't "a gamble" that "backfired". It was a similarity between two logos, neither of us had the idea first (Go Google it, there are dozens of registered bike chain logos out there).
5. I decided it wasn't worth the fight and removed it. I'm not looking to blame anyone, I'm just walking away. What I did do though was express my opinion about the process that BN used rather than discussing the issue with me. Garry Brennan knows lots of the same people I do, we've been CCd on a lot of the same emails recently. There were much more constructive ways to handle this than having the lawyers issue threats.
6. BN have decided this reflects poorly on my character and I'm harming their reputation. I'll leave it to you guys to make up your own minds on that one.
7. You guys are all awesome!
Hmm, have they threatened BikeBug with legal action? FWIW, I see the same degree of similarity between the MelbourneCyclist chain logo and BN's logo as between BikeBug and BN's logos.
That's unbelievable. I thought Bicycle Network were on our team, but I guess not. Maybe we should send a few bicycles to their office and see if they can get back on track.
Although I notice they are attending conferences with the RACV... there's some questionable agendas between the both of them.
The stated mission of Bicycle Network is 'to promote the health of the community through the prevention and control of disease by More People Cycling More Often'. It is NOT a bicycle advocacy organisation. It used to be when it started in 1975. In its early years it was an INDEPENDENT bicycle advocacy and activist group that was innovative, vigorous and successful. Now it is a money making organisation that has lost its soul and doesn't know who it is or where it came from. It has sponsors that include the RACV, Coc-cola, a private health insurer, a real estate agent and an insurance broker.
Having Coke as a sponsor is a great way to promote community health and of course the RACV is a long standing bicycling supporter, after all it is an 'Automobile Club'.
In 11/12 BN's total revenue was over $12.64M, it spent $4.7M on 'employee benefits', total assets were over $7.7M, total compensation for 'key management personnel' exceeded $1.04M.
Given the above it was a wise decision not to fight them. Their threatening and very disappointing legal letter is consistent with who they are and clearly shows what they are.
I'm grateful for fora like Melbourne Cyclist that, with much more limited resources than BN, in many ways do much more for cycling and cyclists than BN.
I came to this a little late...
I’ve had my doubts about BN for a while, but it all became clear to me when, a little tired of their constant e-mail advocacy of ‘Copenhagen’ lanes I dared to give them my opinion about it. The vitriolic reply I got was shocking.
I’m not totally against the idea. I think they have pros and cons, but I do think BN’s view is overly optimistic. They seem to think they’re the perfect solution to everything and must not be questioned.
I sent BN a message about the legal threats, suggesting that they weren’t acting the way you’d expect a community organisation to behave. Their response was, perhaps predictably, nonsensical, defensive and officious.
Here’s my reply to their reply.
Your reply merely confirms just how much your organisation is out of touch with real people. You are presenting as a relentless corporate entity which seems out of step with the friendly image BN would like to present. You claim to have no choice in protecting the vital assets that your logo represents and yet you seem to care nothing at all for the *real* valuable asset - your organisation’s standing and reputation in the cycling community.
It’s disappointing to see such a lack of vision and understanding.
It’s also only contributes to the sense of disconnectedness to be typing this into a form where I have to identify myself (with a number) to get a reply from someone who only identifies himself with a first name.
I’m sure it’s unintentional, but you can see how it contributes to the feeling that you’re communicating with an implacable, faceless corporate bureaucracy.
I'm kind of surprised that they bothered to reply, but then I guess that's what being defensive is all about.
Well, there's over 6000 people viewing their Facebook posts, it would be interesting to see how they take criticism in a more public forum.
"Well, there's over 6000 people viewing their Facebook posts, it would be interesting to see how they take criticism in a more public forum."
I've heard from one person that after criticising them on a FB page someone from BN called her employer to complain. That sounds fun....
Unbelievable. Looks like they have let their own self importance get in the way of their "objective".
I lost interest when the RACV sponsored them. I didn't know about coke.
Screw them and ride on !
You can write to the board (as a member) and request that your letter is distributed to all board members. The reason for this approach is that the board members are routinely not informed about dissatisfaction in the ranks. I have used this approach with great success in alerting the board to a risk and for the board chairman to have to place on paper that they were unaware of the risk and would review the event in question.
There is an enormous disconnect between the members, staff and board at BV which needs improving.
Postings about BN Victoria over the last few days are sad to see because they confirm what a bad place BN is in these days.
Fortunately there are other cycling fora that 'really tell it like it is' (as we used to say in the 60's).
Melbourne Cyclist is one of these.
There are others like the Amy Gillett Foundation http://www.amygillett.org.au/ which is much more activist and sophisticated than BN will ever be. It's interesting to look at AGF's partners page - it includes Bicycle NSW but does not include BN Vic - now fancy that!
I'm sure that like many here I have too many jerseys, cycling tops etc, but I would buy one with this logo on it.
And now the same dark organisation heads up the Australian Cyclists Party's reference and experts panel. https://australian-cyclists-party.org/reference-experts-panel/ Will they recommend banning all other cycling organisations should they (dreadful thought) ever gain any power?
They don't head it up Alan, it's just an advisory panel. Look for the next update of that page and you'll see my name on it too :)